Playing their respects

Music teachers and students from around the Palouse will gather tonight to play a concert in honor of an educator taken before his time.

Entering into its eighth year, the Bill Bolick Jazz Night begins at 6 p.m. in Kimbrough Hall, and brings together high school jazz bands from the surrounding districts.

“[Bolick] was a dedicated, beloved teacher and the music educators in the region wanted to remember and pay tribute to him,” said Greg Yasinitsky, director of the WSU School of Music.

Bolick taught music in the Colton School District for 21 years, but passed away in 2007. He was recognized for numerous honors during his career, including multiple teacher-of-the-year awards.

“The Southeast Washington Music Educators decided to honor his name with this event,” said Shawn Bowman, music director for the Asotin Schools and director for the concert.

There will be nine different jazz bands and choirs performing, including the WSU Big Band, and audience members will hear everything from Latin jazz to ballads to swing, Bowman said.

Brian Ward, an instructor of jazz piano at WSU, said the concert is non-competitive and a good way for the bands to get some practice before more serious events.

“It’s a pretty chill, fun night,” he said.

Each band will perform two to three songs and the concert will go until about 8:30 p.m., Bowman said.

“This event is a real showcase for area high schools to share jazz with each other,” he said, “and a great way to get ideas for literature and playing styles.”

The Bill Bolick Honor Jazz Band will close out the show and is composed of selected students from each of the participating bands, Bowman said.

“Yasinitsky will rehearse and conduct them using three jazz charts that he has written,” he said.

Jazz Night is a great opportunity for high school students to see some of the facilities offered at WSU, Ward said, and a way to give back to the city of Pullman.

“It’s our service to the community to put on things like this,” he said.

Ward said the event also offers a chance to acknowledge the importance of high school band directors.

“They’re really the unsung heroes of music education,” he said. “They create the love of music in people way before they get to college.”

Yasinitsky said the concert honors what Bolick stood for by celebrating music education and talented local students.

“He would love the event,” Yasinitsky said.

The Bill Bolick Jazz Night is free for everyone to attend.