Cheney Free Press -


Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake jazz band performs while audience swings


Al Stover

Tenor saxophone player Stephanie Burris, band director Craig Johnson and alto saxophone player Kris Isherwood perform during the Red Clay combo's set.

The Medical Lake Junior High, High School and Red Clay combo jazz bands held their annual Java and Jazz Swing Dance Fundraiser, Feb. 21, at the middle school. The theme of the event was "Swingin' Under the Stars."

The bands hold the fundraiser every year to raise money for trips and competitions.

After friends and families filled up the middle school auditorium, the curtain rose and the high school band began the event with a set of five songs.

In addition to the high school band, the middle school band and the Red Clay combo - comprised of five high school students - played as the audience danced on the auditorium floor.

While the bands took breaks, guest dance instructors Kathy Peake, who runs A Time to Dance Studio in Spokane, and her husband Howard demonstrated swing and waltz steps.

Freshmen Daniel Miller, who had performed at the previous year's fundraiser, said it was fun to perform and see people dance as the bands performed

After the middle school performed their only set, the high school band once again took to the stage. The Red Clay combo closed the evening with one last song.

Annette King, whose son Nathan King plays the saxophone in the high school band, wished more people would have come to the event.

"It's the funnest concert of the year," Annette King said.

Sixth-12th grade band director Craig Johnson mentioned this year's fundraiser was the best in the past three years.

"This is the best turnout we've ever had and the most people we've had dancing," Johnson said. "It was a good night."

Jonhson said that he and the students spent the last few weeks attending competitions and shows prior to the fundraiser.

The day after the event, the band performed at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Johnson said the bands played "outstanding" and the audience and critics were entertained. He added that the students enjoyed attending the clinics and watching a performance from musician Grace Kelly.

Al Stover can be reached at


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