Liverpool may soon be home to a famous jazz quartet.
Four students at Liverpool High School, under the direction of band director James Spadafore, will be competing for a chance to play at the Monterey Jazzfest in California on March 24. If they’re chosen, the boys will play at the nationally renowned festival in September.
“I was just scanning the competitions for the kids to do,” Spadafore said. “I was looking for something different.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Michael Cunningham, director of fine arts for the Liverpool Central School District. “The Monterey Jazzfest is known nationwide.”
Spadafore learned of the opportunity to compete for a slot at the jazzfest and jumped at the chance. The jazz quartet, made up of saxophone David Carpenter, drummer Mike Lamardo, organist Collin DeJoseph and trumpet Dan Salem, made a recording in the Rome home of Rick Montalbano, a friend of Spadafore’s. They sent in the recording and were surprised to learn that they had been selected for the chance to compete.
“I didn’t think we’d get in,” Spadafore said. “I just thought it would be a good experience for the kids to be in the studio.”
Perhaps the group shouldn’t be so surprised about their admission to the selective competition. The boys have a wealth of experience, having played their instruments six years or longer.
Once a trio, the group once consisted of DeJoseph, LaMardo and Ryan Dann. Carpenter and Salem were asked to join for a performance at Jazz in the Square in Syracuse, making the group a quintet. When Dann, last year’s valedictorian, left for college, the group became a foursome.
“We didn’t expect to make it,” DeJoseph said, echoing his teacher’s sentiments.
“We just thought it would be a good idea to get experience in the studio, whether or not we made it,” Salem agreed.
Spadafore said that the quartet will compete against five other groups, many of them from art schools who devote all of their studies to jazz music. Each group will perform for the judges and will later play at an area club. They will find out the same day if they were selected or not. The winner will play at the jazzfest in September.
The trip to California later this month won’t be cheap.
“I’ve got $4,000 on my credit card that needs to be paid off,” Spadafore said.
To help defray the costs, there will be a fundraiser at 7 p.m. Wednesday March 21 at Sertino’s Caf (c), the former Foster’s, at 105 First St. in the village of Liverpool. The event will feature a buffet and auction, and the foursome will play. Tickets are $12 in advance or $14 at the door. For tickets or information, contact Spadafore at 453-1500 ext. 4026.
The boys are grateful for the community support.
“It’s great to have a community that supports youth jazz,” DeJoseph said. He pointed out that jazz is a fun and expressive form of music. “You can express yourself more so than with classical music.”
Salem agreed. “Jazz is more exciting to play,” he said.
In other words, win or lose, the jazz quartet will be doing what they love.
“We’re just happy to be going,” Spadafore said. “If we win, it’ll just be the cherry on our sundae.”
Fundraiser to be held
Sertino’s Caf (c) will host a fundraiser to help the Liverpool High School jazz quartet pay for their trip to Monterey, California. The event will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday March 21 at Sertino’s Caf (c), the former Foster’s, at 105 First St. in the village of Liverpool. The event will feature a buffet and auction, and the foursome will play. Tickets are $12 in advance or $14 at the door. For tickets or information, contact Spadafore at 453-1500 ext. 4026.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.