Youth Jazz Concert Saturday Afternoon

Louis Armstrong art banner at Cafe Aroma. A summer jazz student wrote a song about a club in New Orleans where Sachmo hung out. It will be played at the IAF Theater on Saturday.


By Marcia E. Gawecki

The slow, distinct jazz sound came wafting into the reception area at Idyllwild Arts. Unmoved, the girl behind the desk kept typing on her computer. But like the smell of home-cooked meal, it was drawing me in.

“It’s the jazz band practicing for Saturday’s concert,” the girl said.

I snuck in during one of their numbers, and sat in the back row. There was no one else in the large auditorium.

Onstage, a student with a saxophone around his neck was directing the group of 11 young students, mostly teenage boys and one girl. In total, there were three saxophones, two electric guitars, two trumpets, two trombones, two drummers and one pianist.

“Play loud so I can hear it,” instructed Ben, their student leader.

Ron Stout, their jazz band leader, had to leave early to go to a gig, Ben said later.

The song the group played was called, “Funky Butt,” and it was written by Ben, age 14.

‘Funky Butt’ got its name from the “Funky Butthole,” a New Orleans club in the 1920s, Ben explained. It was kind of a raunchy place, where gangsters, whores, pimps and musicians hung out, including the great Louis Armstrong.

“The reason the song is so slow is because everyone wanted to make the night last as long as possible,” Ben said. “The musicians played all night so everyone could keep dancing.”

Another song the summer jazz students will be playing Saturday afternoon is called, “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” arranged by Dave Brubeck.

“We almost didn’t get to play it, if it wasn’t for Randy,” Ben said.

When someone in the band suggested playing “Blue Rondo” for the conertt, Ron said that he didn’t have all the sheet music. But if someone could arrange it, he’d take a look at it.

That’s when Randy Plummer, age 17, a sax player from Riverside, CA, stepped in. In a day and a half, Randy wrote the other band parts so that everyone would have the “Blue Rondo” music.

“That’s really fast, dude,” Ben said.

Randy, who looks more like a football player than a saxman, was modest about his efforts.

“I just grabbed a pen and paper and started writing,” he said.

Obviously, he was motivated to play the song. For his efforts, you’ll get to hear him play a solo for a few seconds on Saturday.

“How can both of you know so much about jazz when you’re only 14 and 17?” I asked, thinking of Louis, Miles and Ella, whose health and looks took a toll.

“People tell me that I’m an ‘old soul,'” Randy said.

“Funky Butt” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” will be part of the music lineup at the Youth Jazz Concert on Saturday, July 23, at 1 p.m. at the IAF Theater.

All concerts at Idyllwild Arts are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jul 21, 2011 @ 12:58

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