Fitch combines jazz and dessert for sweet sounding night

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Austintown Fitch principal Marc Pupino directed the alumni band, which featured graduates from the 70s to recent graduates. Along with Pupino, Austintown choir teacher and drama instructor Bill Klein and band parent president Brad Gessner performed in the band.


Neighbors | Zack Shively.The two high school jazz bands performed to close the night out. Both bands practice before or after school, as the school does not offer a jazz class.


Neighbors | Zack Shively.The attendees of the Jazz and Dessert night got to eat 10 dessert samples throughout the night and then voted on the best professional and amateur bakers. Pictured, Heather Lynn's Buckeyes finished in first as the best professional baker.


Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Jazz and Dessert night featured a Chinese auction as well as music and sweets. The auction prizes included treats from the bakers at the event as well as an acoustic guitar donated for the event.


Neighbors | Zack Shively.Austintown Middle School hosted the third annual Jazz and Dessert night in their cafetorium on Jan. 27. The night included performances by the middle school, high school and alumni jazz bands as well as desserts from a number of amatuer and professional bakers.


Bakers gathered and musicians performed at Austintown’s third annual Jazz and Dessert night on Jan. 27 in the Austintown Middle School cafetorium.

The Austintown band parents organized the event, which brought in a number of amateur and professional dessert bakers and featured performances from the middle school, high school and alumni jazz bands.

Wesley O’Connor, director of the high school jazz bands, said that the program allowed the school to showcase their great jazz ensembles while promoting local bakers. Similarly, band parent president Brad Gessner said the event demonstrated the talented jazz bands and the history of the Youngstown area with cookie tables.

The bands had just finished up their holiday jazz festival and had their winter break, so they only have about three weeks to prepare for the show. Along with that, all of the jazz bands are volunteer based and meet before or after school. O’Connor said they manage to perform well because his students are “talented musicians.”

The bands played on the stage in the cafetorium while the bakers had tables set up on both sides of the room. Some had cupcakes and others had cookies. The band parents handed out plastic containers for the families to keep their dessert in to take home with them.

The band parents set up a raffle in the hallway. They had 26 prizes to raffle, 25 of which were larger desserts from the bakers at the event. They also had an acoustic guitar that had been donated to the band parents as a prize.

Upon arrival, the attendees of the program received 10 samples and two cards for voting. They voted on the best professional and amateur bakers at the event. The top three in both categories won awards. Those in attendance could also buy extra cards for the raffle.

The band parents offered drinks, including milk, hot chocolate, soda and water, to the attendees. They also sold band shirts and ornaments.

The middle school jazz band began the event under the direction of Jeremy McClaine. They played a several songs, including their closer, “Hey Jude“ by The Beatles.

Following the performance, the alumni jazz band took the stage, including Gessner on trumpet, Fitch’s choir teacher Bill Klein on piano and principal Marc Pupino directing the band. The group featured performers of many different ages, with four high school seniors, some recent graduates and older graduates as well. In all, the band had representatives from five decades, starting in the 1970s and ending in the 2010s.

They played jazz classics as well as popular songs, like the theme song to “Sesame Street.“ The band only has three to four performances throughout the year, according to Gessner. The group only gets a couple days of rehearsal before a performance due to where people live and their schedules.

The high school’s Jazz 2 followed the alumni band under direction of O’Connor. Their set opened with the Glenn Miller classic, “Chattanooga Choo Choo.“ They featured a saxophone player from the middle school band who filled in for someone at the last minute. She had twenty minutes of preparation.

Between the two high school groups, the master of ceremonies, Andy Yantes announced the winners of the dessert competition. Yantes works as a mentor for the robotics teams at Austintown schools and has been the master of ceremonies at the robotics events that the school has hosted.

O’Connor’s Jazz 1 group finished the night off. They played recognizable songs, such as Chick Corea’s “Spain.“ Their composition, which includes brass, woodwinds, piano, electric bass, drums and an electric guitar, gave them some ability to use variety in their set.

The funds raised throughout the night went toward the band’s trip next school year. Last year’s Jazz and Dessert helped fund the trip the will take this school year to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

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