The Merrill High School and Prairie River Middle School Jazz Ensembles will present the annual “Big Band Bash” to round out the school year. This year’s event will be a “jazz in the park,” held at the Normal Park Band Gazebo.  
The Middle School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Michael Chula, will open the show with an assortment of tunes, including “Blues is my Favorite Color” by Paul Clark, “Uncle Milo’s Side Show” by Dean Sorensen, and an arrangement of the pop classic “Lean On Me.” The band is sure to pack a punch with nearly 60 members.
The High School Jazz Ensemble II, directed by Elli Kaetterhenry, will continue with the Eddie Harris tune “Cold Duck Time,” Mike Tomaro’s “Blue Note Special” and a contemporary arrangement of “When the Saints go Marching In.”
The High School Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Kevin Short, will perform a variety of music, including a vocal feature by Ashley Berton, of the Duke Ellington classic “Do Nothin’ ‘till You Hear from Me,” and another Duke Ellington piece from 1930 entitled “The Mooche” that will feature Gabrielle Reissmann, Bethany Hasenberg, and Wesley Boehm on clarinet. The band will also play Miles Davis’ 1949 “Boplicity” and the 1962 classic, “Afro Blue,” which was made famous by the John Coltrane Quartet. These two pieces were played by the band at the recent State Solo & Ensemble Festival, where the band earned a “1” rating with an almost-perfect score.
The guest artists for this year’s Big Band Bash will be the John Greiner Quartet. John is a very accomplished musician who graduated from Wausau West High School, and went on to play in the United States Air Force Band. He has a degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and has played with many artists, including the Jimmy Dorsey and Artie Shaw Orchestras, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Closer to home, John leads a trio, quartet, and his Swingshift Big Band, all of which can be heard at various events throughout Wisconsin.
The concert starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Normal Park Band Gazebo. Bring a blanket or chairs, some food and good company, and enjoy this evening of jazz in the park. Poor weather back-up site is the Merrill High School commons. Concessions will be available. Admission is free, and donations to the music department are welcome.