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High-school ensembles will steal the show at the JGB Syracuse Jazz Festival

Some of the best big bands in Central New York aren't even made up of professional musicians.

But the students who play in groups such as Syracuse Department of Parks & Recreation Stan Collella All-Star Band, the West Genesee High School Jazz Band, the Corcoran High School Jazz Ensemble, and the Manlius Pebble Hill Jazz Combo certainly play like professionals. These kids swing, big-time!

Those bands will be among the 15 scholastic jazz acts performing at the 2008 JGB Syracuse Jazz Fest on Friday and Saturday, June 27-28, at Onondaga Community College.

West Genny vocalist

The West Genesee Jazz Band, directed by Steve Frank, a talented trombonist himself, plays jazz fest at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28, just before headliner Chaka Khan performs at 9 p.m. on the adjacent Y94 Main Stage.

The 19-piece band will perform tunes such as "Avalon," "Caravan" and "Blues in the Closet."

"'Avalon' is from Natalie Cole's book and features our great bassist, Jordan Morton, as well as our excellent vocalist, Lauren Sageer," Frank said.

Other featured soloists include tenor saxophonists David Pond and Ben Seigal; baritone player Genevieve Brigida; alto player Brandon Valerino; pianist Dylan Price; and drummer Kevin Mixon, Jr.

The OCC Jazz Band

The Onondaga Community College Jazz Band, also under the direction of Steve Frank, will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, June 27.

"In 2008, despite the nation-wide economic downturn, we've made it a priority to maintain the festival's education programs at full-strength," said Jazz Fest Founder Frank Malfitano. "Our new two-stage format this year will give student musicians the same prime-time audience exposure the festival's professional headliners enjoy. The National Grid Scholastic Stage will be positioned right next to the Y94FM Main Stage, so it's a real high-profile venue which will certainly enhance and elevate the students' performance level."

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