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Washburn to Debut “Earth Life: October Full Moon”

Gary Washburn, director of Grammy-winning Honoka‘a High School Jazz Band for 30+ years, will debut his original musical work, “Earth Life: October Full Moon” Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the Peoples Theater in Honoka‘a.   Performed by Washburn, Alex Czerny, Doug Johnson and Noa Eads, the seven-part suite for two pianos and percussion will be “live recorded” by Emkay Records, Kent Washburn producer, for worldwide distribution.

Gary Washburn, Photo by Sarah Anderson

Essentially a jazz/fusion composition, Washburn uses various musical styles, including traditional and contemporary jazz, funk, pop, ethnic and in some passages, classical.

“I like to write ‘programmatic music,’ i.e., music that is inspired by non-musical ideas,” said Washburn. “Classical Impressionism is an example of programmatic music. I took the idea of mankind’s relationship to the Earth and came up with the titles. Then I began writing my musical impressions of the titles.”

Originally from Oklahoma, Washburn started playing professionally at age 16, touring in the summers with his brother Kent and their band, the “Shadow Lake Eight.” He graduated from Oklahoma State and traveled to University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to earn a Master’s Degree in music composition.  He also did doctoral work in Boston, and in 1976 attended the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire on an Aaron Copeland Fellowship, where he was inspired by a solar eclipse, and began writing what would be “Earth Life: October Full Moon.”

In 1978, he returned to Hawai‘i and began teaching music at Honoka‘a High School, while playing professionally with various groups island-wide, writing arrangements and composing original music.

“I wrote a suite called ‘A Life in a Day’ as a project to fulfill a National Endowment of The Arts Grant that was awarded me, and I performed it to fulfill a Hawai‘i State Foundation of the Arts Grant that was also awarded me,” said Washburn.   “I composed the music in Hilo specifically for the individuals (the group Justin Thyme) who performed the music, much in the same manner that Duke Ellington composed for his band.”  The music was recorded by Washburn and his brother Kent, and released by Milan Records.

Washburn’s new work, “Earth Life: October Full Moon,” will essentially complete the vision that began with “A Life in a Day” over 30 years ago.

During those 30 years, Washburn has been the driving force behind the award-winning Honoka‘a High School Jazz Band, an innovative music program that never sits still.  Last year, the Band received an award from the Grammy Foundation as one of 36 “Grammy Signature Schools,” out of 23,000 eligible nationwide.  In 2010, they won a NAMM Award (National Association of Music Merchandisers) as one of the best communities in the US for music education, and Gary earned a “Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award” from the National Society of High School Scholars.

The Band has performed on National Public Radio’s “From the Top,” opened for the Royal Hawaiian Band at Iolani Palace where they were recognized by the State Legislature; they do a multi-concert tour of Oahu annually to celebrate “National Jazz Appreciation Month,” and their 12th CD has just been released.  His unique teaching style has built a professional reputation as one of the best music educators in the business.  Proficient on most instruments, Washburn is also in demand as a musician, playing with local bands and sitting in with visiting performers.

As a prelude to the “October Full Moon” premier, Gary Washburn, Brian McCree/bass, Bruce David/drums, Paul Lindbergh/tenor sax and flute and Doug Johnson/percussion and vibes will perform additional original music by Washburn.

The concert is a one-time chance to play a part in the creative experience, as the music will be live-recorded for worldwide release on EmKay Records, and will be available digitally on all DSP sites such as iTunes, Amazon, etc., and in CD format thru Amazon’s Disk On Demand program.

Admission to the concert is $10 adults, $7 kupuna, $5 keiki and students, available at the door.  For more information, visit www.facebook.com/EarthLifeOctoberFullMoon or email catherinetarleton@gmail.com


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