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Five Star Jazz Band takes Kauffman to big band era at Future Stages Festival

Peyton Smith presents an energetic, choreographed, "Minnie the Moocher."
Peyton Smith presents an energetic, choreographed, "Minnie the Moocher."
Floyd E. Gingrich

The 5 Star Jazz Band took Future Stages Festival back to the days of big band jazz bands at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, June 22, 2014. How can going back in time be part of the future, you may ask.

Singer, Katie Gomes, sings with the instrumentalists of 5 Star Jazz Band
Floyd E. Gingrich

High school students from around the Kansas City metro area audition to get into The 5 Star Jazz Band, and they polish their numbers to bring back the sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Cab Calloway, and the rest of the stars only the eldest of us can remember first hand. They played a few instrumental numbers with some remarkable soloists; then they turned to only the best vocals to complete the set.

Singers, Deanna Eberhart, Katie Gomes, and Lana Moerer, launched into a convincing rendition "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me." They sang energetically and in tune, impressive for their youth, as they brought back the world war era.

Peyton Smith put his body into a choreographed version of Cab Calloway's classic, "Minnie the Moocher;" all he was missing was the zoot suit, and getting the audience into the echoes. The dancing was well-executed, the voice was smooth.

Deanna Eberhart, Katie Gomes, and Lana Moerer all sang solos of their own in appropriate style, reaching for the whiskey-soaked voices associated with the songs. The band and the vocalists were well-balanced; there were good riffs echoing the vocals as they progressed.

According to their web site, 13 local schools, middle schools, high schools and the UMKC Conservatory of Music; this could have changed since the last update. The young performers receive this unique training at no cast beyond a uniform fee. The kids who stick with this can develop a fully adult interpretation of these treasures of Americana, with all of the pathos and delivery they deserve; they might make some money at it, too.