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Grammy-Winning Honoka’a High Jazz Band Goes to Maui County

Meet them at the bridge of music on Maui and Lāna‘i  as they celebrate Aloha, Peace and National Jazz Appreciation Month

The Grammy-winning Honoka’a High School Jazz Band is performing on Maui and Lāna‘i  from March 30th to April 2nd in order to celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month which culminates in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Jazz Day on April 30th.

The Honoka’a Jazz Band is a group of advanced music students who uphold a long tradition of excellence at Honoka’a High and Intermediate School. Under the direction of Gary Washburn, a dedicated teacher and accomplished jazz artist, the band is considered one of the state’s top High School Bands.  Honoka’a High School was one of 36 schools out of 22,000 eligible programs in the U.S. to receive the GRAMMY Signature Schools Award. Their Director, Gary Washburn has been recognized as a Living Treasure of Hawaii for his work as a music educator and has received a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award.

This year, the theme of the Honoka’a Jazz Band’s Big City Tour Band is all about bridges as they become an ambassador of aloha bridging the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui and Lāna‘i  through music.

Besides the term “bridge” being a musical term referring to a section in music that provides a contrast to the verses in a song and the chorus, the music itself becomes a bridge that can be significant for the sharing of aloha and peace.

Gary Washburn notes that, “Music is a universal language and as such, opens doors between cultures and communities. Music does not involve words, only sound. Sound expresses emotion, particularly in Jazz where the freedom and spontaneity are the corner stones of the art. Jazz musicians have a “special connection” through a common “secret language” that celebrates peace and friendship. Their purpose is to create connections between the listeners by expressing common emotions” stated the band’s director.

The concept of the bridge is not only seen as music shared which will be connecting three islands on this tour, it connects the past and future in the life of the Honoka’a Band.  Nearly four decades ago, the then little known jazz band from the Hawaii Island went to Maui.

State of Hawaii House District 1 Representative Mark M. Nakashima recalls, “As a member of the Honoka’a High School Band, our first neighbor island trip was to Maui to march in the Maui County Fair Parade.  Mr. Washburn was in his second year as a band teacher at Honoka’a and this did a lot to revitalize and energize the music program.  This return to Maui seems like a bridge between the past and the future as Honoka’a marks a return to the Valley Isle once again after 38 years” said Nakashima.

Returning to Maui to extend a heart of friendship from Honoka’a, the band will be performing at the Maui Adult Day Care Nisei Ocean View Center on March 30th at 1p.m. and the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center on March 30th at 6p.m.

On Friday, March 30th, the band is excited to bridge over to Lāna‘i where they will do three appearances connected to the eleventh Fifth Friday Lāna‘i Town Party.  This is seen as a significant exchange according to Bradley Bunn, Chair of the Lāna‘i Chamber of Commerce, who wrote the following.  “We look forward to welcoming the Honoka‘a Jazz Band to Lāna‘i. More importantly we hope that lasting connections will be formed through their performances with our students and community.”   For more information on Fifth Friday see https://fifthfridayLāna‘i .com.

A highlight of their Maui Tour is the music bridge to agriculture.  On Saturday, April 1st, they perform twice at the 10th Annual Maui County Agricultural Festival held at the Maui Tropical Plantation.  They will be on the Main Stage at 11a.m. and the Keiki Stage at 2:15 p.m.  Warren K. Watanabe, Executive Director of the Maui County Farm Bureau welcomes the connection.

Our goal has always been to educate residents about the importance of a vibrant ag industry on Maui….In addition to providing beautiful landscapes, managed and productive ag lands are at the core of agritourism, festivals and entertainment, and Maui as a culinary destination. In short, a thriving agricultural community supports our culture, our community, our economy, and our health. We’re excited to bring people together at AgFest and honored to welcome the Honoka’a Jazz Band to perform on Maui” said, Watanabe.

The band’s final appearance on Maui will be at the Lahaina Arts Society Banyan Tree Fine Art Fair on April 2nd from noon to 2p.m. where they bridge music to the fine arts.

While the tour will be exciting, the most challenging bridge to cross for the band will be between the past 40 years of the Honoka’a music program with the beloved Linaka Washburn by her husband Gary’s side, and the first music tour without her.  Linaka loved bridges and made sure the 2017 Honoka’a Big City Tour would go on despite her fight with throat cancer.  Linaka passed this past January and in honor of her constant aloha and support, the Honoka’a Jazz Band’s 2017 tour is all about bridges.

Meet them at the bridge of music on Maui and Lāna‘i . The bridge has been built with such incredible aloha from the Office of Representative Mark Nakashima, Maui County Office of Economic Development, the Maui County Farm Bureau, Maui County Ag Festival, Lahaina Arts Society, Lāna‘i  Chamber of Commerce, Lāna‘i  Fifth Friday Committee, the Lāna‘i  Schools, Maui’s Adult Care Center, the University of Hawaii Maui Community College and even Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall.

For more information on National Jazz Appreciation Month which is celebrated every April see: http://americanhistory.si.edu/smithsonian-jazz/jazz-appreciation-month

For more information on the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Jazz Day 2017 see http://jazzday.com/about/

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