Thank you to the Northboro Southboro Music Association for allowing me to have a book table at their annual Pops Night at the Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, Mass.
The event was attended by over 900 people and featured music from every instrumental and vocal group in the school, many of whose members were featured in Mr. Clark’s Big Band.
Former students of Clark’s came up to me throughout the evening and fondly recalled their days in the Trottier Middle School band room in Southborough, noting that they were grateful to have played with him. Upon noticing the rolls of sheet music in the vase on the book table — music related to Eric Green, “Kaleidoscope,” “Swing Shift,” and “A Kind and Gentle Soul” — several teens said they were honored to have been able to perform those pieces.
My daughter Abbey (pictured above) helped me throughout the evening.
Jamie Clark himself also attended and was on hand when my son Jonah (pictured on the right with Clark), a drummer who was a friend of Eric Green’s and was mentioned many times in Mr. Clark’s Big Band, won a jazz award … that was after Clark was accosted like a rock star by parents, students and grads alike.
As I wrote in the book’s prologue about high school students who gathered to play with their middle school music director one last time in May 2015:
Since they’d left Trottier Middle School, many confessed, they’d longed for the connection, the camaraderie, the joy of the Big Band. Nothing had been able to fill the space in their hearts that was once occupied by the experience of playing in this space with this man … Mr. Clark and the Big Band are never quite in the past.
You can listen to the alums of Clark’s Big Band, and their Northborough Melican Middle School jazz alum counterparts, play Van Morrison’s “Moondance” at Pops Night.