HARLINGEN — Josue Ayala blew powerfully into the baritone sax as he and several other musicians squeezed in one more practice session.
Josue, 17, was preparing to play with the Harlingen High School Jazz Ensembles next week at the Spurs NBA game in San Antonio.
“We are very used to being in front of a big audience,” said Josue, a junior who plays with Jazz I, also known as Honors Jazz.
“We are going to enjoy our time there,” he said.
He and 79 other jazz musicians from HHS — Honors Jazz, Jazz Band II, Jazz Band III and Jazz Band IV — will perform Thursday. Each band will have its own set. For example, Jazz Band II will play “Absolutely Awesome,” “Red Clay” and “Lulu’s Back in Town.”
Honors Jazz will play “The Star Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the game at the AT&T Center, plus other numbers later. The arena can seat more than 18,000 people for basketball games. Other events also are held there.
The HHS jazz musicians were psyched.
“I feel really excited,” said Aaron Zapata, a sophomore and baritone sax player for Jazz Band II.
“I’ve never been to an actual NBA game before,” said Aaron, 16. “We are going to be performing ‘Absolutely Awesome’ at the beginning.”
Band director Ronnie Rios said a recording of the jazz musicians was submitted to the Spurs organization. He didn’t seem all that surprised the HHS jazz musicians were chosen to perform.
“Our kids perform with a lot of confidence,” he said. “They perform with a lot of enthusiasm. The synergy and energy, that’s what got them the attention.”
Five members of Honors Jazz met Friday afternoon for a bit of fine tuning. They played a few measures and then Rios stopped them to talk about their eighth notes.
“They’ve got to be very, very short,” he said.
They played a few more measures and he stopped them again to talk about a specific high note in “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“The thing that people are going to remember is that high note,” he said.
The brief practice concluded, and Devin Porras, a 17-year-old trumpet player, said he was looking forward to the performance next week.
“I’m pretty excited that we are getting this opportunity to perform in front of such a big audience,” said Devin, a junior in the Honors Jazz band. Those musicians will also perform Miles Davis’s “Seven Steps to Heaven”, plus “My Romance” and other numbers.
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