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Missoula, Charlo school bands swap songs

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CHARLO — The silky, smooth sound of live jazz filled Charlo School’s gymnasium last Wednesday as Jazz III showed the Charlo Middle School Band a thing or two about performing music.

Jazz III is a lively jazz band filled with community members and musicians from the University of Montana. Charlo music teacher Deb Nelson-Rosbarsky has played alto saxophone with Jazz III since 1989, and convinced Charlo’s Gear Up coordinator Betty Stickle to sponsor the group’s trip to Charlo on Wednesday. 

Keeping the crowd on their toes, the Charlo Middle School kicked off the concert with “Rock the House” and “Just Plain Blues.” 

Jazz III started playing a little later with tunes that rocked the house such as “Bird Land,” “A Taste of Honey,” “Tall Cotton” and “Samba de Los Gatos.”

“The jazz band played a great concert,” Nelson-Rosbarsky said. “And my kids did an outstanding job, considering I was out for a couple weeks for surgery.”

Only a few weeks after undergoing major hip surgery, Nelson-Rosbarsky energetically performed a solo during the concert and conducted her band students with the utmost enthusiasm. The students were taken by surprise when they realized on Tuesday that the concert would still take place, despite their music teacher’s four week absence. 

But the students performed for the small crowd and Jazz III members with grace, demonstrating Charlo’s blossoming musical skill.

Because of scheduling issues, only 20 students of Charlo’s 38-member band could perform at the concert. 

Lynn Vanderburg from St. Ignatius also performed a solo during the concert. Vanderburg is one of the band’s three non-student members and has been playing with Jazz III for 26 years. 

The concert lasted one hour and afterwards all attendees meandered home with a jazzy spring in their step.

“This was really exciting and judging from the people I talked with, it would be fun to do next year,” Nelson-Rosbarsky said.

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