Montesano Jazz Band and senior Blaine Ross gear up for Jazz-n-Desserts

Blaine Ross, one of only two seniors in the Montesano Jazz Band, dedicated himself from an early age to pursuing the challenge of making music.

Ross was influenced to pursue music through his guitar-playing father and his saxophone-playing grandfather.

“My parents enlisted me in guitar lessons from Warren Mason, the same man who taught my father guitar and it was a profound experience,” Ross said.

He joined the band in the fifth grade while attending Robert Gray Elementary, then moved to Montesano where he continued his participation in band under the instruction of band director Maria Hoffman.

Hoffman recalled an eighth-grade Ross coming into the high school band room and asking to join in.

“I told him to take a seat but that he was going to have to practice hard, and he did just that,” Hoffman said, adding that Ross has continued to better himself as a jazz musician.

Ross says he has stuck with jazz band throughout his junior and senior high career because he enjoys the challenge of creating good jazz, the atmosphere created within the band and the musical influences from past teachers that drove him to apply himself. The love of a musical-challenge is one reason why Ross has decided to major in music education in college.

“My favorite part of being in the band is that I’m part of a group that’s working hard to make music for the community and the challenge of learning the more technical pieces,” he said.

The community will have the opportunity to see Ross and the Montesano Jazz Band in action April 23 at the Jazz-n-Desserts night hosted by the Montesano band boosters.

The fundraiser will take place at 3 p.m. in the commons of the junior and senior high school, and tickets are $5 at the door. The Montesano Jazz Band will be performing jazz, swing and Latin charts for attendees to enjoy while snacking on provided and raffled-off desserts.

“There will be music to sit and eat to and music to get up and dance to,” Hoffman said.

Desserts will be provided by the band boosters, and Hoffman says there will be no shortage of delicious dishes. Brownies, cookies and cheesecakes are just some of the desserts that have been provided in past years, and Hoffman notes that there is usually at least one dish that grabs the attention of event-goers.

“Some of our band-booster parents used to be professional bakers, and we get to auction those dishes off,” she said.

Ross says he is looking forward to Jazz-n-Desserts.

“I really enjoy events like Jazz-n-Desserts because it presents the opportunity to showcase not only my individual skills but the band’s skills and show off our repertoire,” Ross said.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards band-essentials like uniform maintenance and instrument upkeep and repair.

“Join us for an afternoon of jazz and great desserts to help support our kids,” Hoffman said.