The Cowboy Nights give their final performance for the school year at the 39ers Club. Left to right: Back to camera, director Jeff Hill. Percussion section (far corner), Aaron Pitt, Jay Wallace, Tamarick Bruton and Tommy Langford. Back row (trumpets): Jorge Tojiero, Lindsay Pinkard, Zet Primm, Blake Webb, Michael McCool and Hunter Elliot. Middle row (trombones): Joshua Stafford, Ryan Quiros, Cullen Gudz and Tyler Belinski. Front row (saxophones): Dylan Welch, Jacob Robinson, Kristi Ferrell, Lyric Davis and Toby Fox.
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
At the final meeting of the 39ers Club (before their summer break), the Cowboy Nights Jazz Band of Madison County High School, under the direction of Jeff Hill, gave their final performance of the school year, filling the room with the smooth sounds of bossa nova and the lively beat of Latin numbers, along with selections from other musical genres, including Swing, Big Band, and even a contemporary number, Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me.”
Jan Ledsome and Thelma Dehart had dressed the stage and set the mood with music-note-themed table decorations for the concert, and director Hill had words of high praise for the high school students who formed the ensemble. “I took the best of all the other musical groups and formed this group,” he said. “I teach what I call ‘my select.’ They’re diligent, they’re dedicated, they’re hard-working and they play with real emotion.”
The band treated the Club members to “The Girl From Ipanema,” a popular, worldwide hit from the early sixties, and the Latin beat of “Baja,” as Hill took time between numbers to talk about the group and introduce individual members. On percussion: Abigail Blanton (piano), Tommy Langford and Tamarick Bruton (drums), Aaron Pitt (lead rhythm guitar) and Jay Wallace (acoustic). Trumpets: Jorge Tojiero, Lindsey Pinkard, Zet Primm, Blake Webb, Michael McCool and Hunter Elliot. Trombones: Joshua Stafford, Ryan Quiros, Cullen Gudz and Tyler Belinski. Saxophones: Dylan Welch, Jacob Robinson, Kristi Ferrell, Lyric Davis and Toby Fox.
Hill also talked about the importance of musical education in a young person’s life, urging those present to support the music education programs in the local schools. “Music completes the person,” he said. “Music is wonderful.”
On the bittersweet side, he added that this was the last time these particular young people would be playing together as a group. Four of the band members, Zet Primm, Aaron Pitt, Ryan Quiros and Hunter Elliot, are graduating seniors who won’t be returning in the fall, but will be heading off to college and other new pursuits. Club member John Hopwood then spoke briefly to the four, urging them not to give up their instruments once they left school and moved into professional life, even though the tendency was for most people to do just that. “Keep playing,” he said. “Don’t give up your talent.”
The band serenaded the 39ers with a final selection, a Big Band number “from your era,” Hill grinned.”
“Who are you calling old?” asked an audience member amid general laughter. “There’s no one here over 39 years of age.”
“Ahh, Glenn Miller,” sighed another as the band played “String of Pearls.”
After the band concluded to loud applause and everyone meandered out to the parking lot, perhaps the sky seemed a little bluer and the heart not quite so heavy, as they considered the wonder that is music and wondered where on earth we’d be without it.