Freedom’s jazz students will present Playing the Oakley Stroke on May 20, and with Gillette’s help, the band hopes to raise funds to support the high school’s instrumental music program, which could use a boost in light of recent school budget cuts.
“Our goal in doing this is to ensure all students who want to participate in band (get the opportunity),” said Freedom Band Booster Treasurer Annette Lewis. “Every year the band boosters run fundraisers in order to support the instrumental music program, but we can’t cover all the costs.”
Proceeds from the concert will help pay for transportation fees and assistant coaches for band competitions and for instrument repairs and replacements.
Gillette is an acquaintance of Freedom Band Director George Chilcott. So when Chilcott found out about how Gillette pitched in to help Liberty raise money for its band’s trip to the Pacific Basin Music Festival in March, he asked Gillette if the trumpet star could work some magic for the Falcons. Gillette’s friends Stevie “Keys” Roseman of Journey and Tom Politzer of Tower of Power will also join the students for their spring show.
Gillette and friends rehearsed with the band for the first time last week, a daunting but extraordinary collaborative experience for the students, according to Chilcott.
“The students in the band were initially apprehensive, almost intimidated, by the presence of these musicians,” Chilcott said. “However, after running through a few musical passages and some encouraging and humorous words from Mic and Stevie, the kids started to open up and play with inspiration. By the end of the session, the kids were begging for more time with them – and not just because they wanted to get out of their other classes.”
“After the clinic, it was very fun to watch many of the students lining up to get autographs,” added Lewis.
Gillette, Politzer and Roseman will accompany the band for several songs, including Tower of Power hits “Squib Cakes,” “You’re Still a Young Man,” and “This Time It’s Real.” The students will also perform traditional jazz standards and Latin jazz numbers that the band has been rehearsing all year.
“These young musicians are very advanced and love to play and learn,” Gillette said. “George Chilcott has done a great job here.”
For the Liberty concerts, Gillette was joined by friend and Tower of Power band mate Skip Mesquite. Mesquite passed away earlier this year, so Gillette said he plans to dedicate the Freedom jazz concert performance to Mesquite and his family.
Gillette will also be selling copies of his latest CD, “Ear Candy,” at the event. A portion of CD sales will also be donated to the Freedom instrumental music program.
The Freedom Jazz Band presents Playing the Oakley Stroke Thursday, May 20 at 7 p.m. in the Freedom High School Multipurpose Room, 1050 Neroly Road in Oakley. Tickets are $15 for adults; $5 for children ages 4 to 12, and free for kids 3 and younger. Advance tickets are available for $10. All ticket proceeds will be donated to the instrumental music program.
For more information, call 925-625-2915 or e-mail email@example.com.