All Iowa high school jazz programs are eligible for an invitation to the Iowa Jazz Championships. Automatic invitations are issued to the first and second place bands in each class of the six District Jazz Festivals in the state of Iowa. In districts where there are only two bands in a class, only the first place band is issued an automatic invitation. In districts where only one band competes in a class, that band is issued an automatic invitation. Each district is empowered with operating their own District Jazz Festival to determine automatic qualifiers.
Each March, the Iowa Jazz Championships Board of Directors meets to determine wild card qualifiers for the event. The IJC Board is made up of the directors from the top three bands at the previous year's Iowa Jazz Championships. In order to be eligible for a wild card selection, bands must meet one of three criteria:
1) Beat a band that is an automatic qualifier at an independent jazz festival in Iowa.
2) Win an independent jazz festival in Iowa (with at least two bands in that class.
3) Finish third at the District Jazz Festival.
Only bands meeting one of these three criteria will be considered for a wild card invitation. The IJC Board looks at the results of all Iowa Jazz Festivals, and selects the most qualified bands for wild card invitations. The board takes this job very seriously. All jazz festivals in the state send their results to an IJC co-chair for consideration. Nothing other than the contest results is used to determine wild card invitations.
The Cherokee Washington High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Paul McEntaffer, has been selected for one of the 2009 wild card selections . The appearance will be the fourth State Jazz appearance for the Cherokee band in the last six years, since McEntaffer came to Cherokee from Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School. In their three previous appearances at State, the Washington High Jazz Band finished sixth in the 2004 competition, fifth in 2007, and ninth last year.
Prior to his time at BC-IG, the former Morningside College musician taught at Aurelia High School, where he got the Aurelia Jazz Band started on their impressive run of State Jazz appearances.
This year's Cherokee success did not come without a lot of hard work and sacrifice from the Jazz Band musicians.
McEntaffer said, "We finished fourth at the NWIBA District Jazz Festival, which was a bit of a disappointment. We have had to work really hard, and that paid off with a second-place finish at both the Tallcorn Jazz Festival at UNI , on February 21st , and the
Lewis & Clark Jazz Festival at WITCC in Sioux City, on February 24th. What put us over
the top for our third 'wild card' invitation was our third consecutive win at the Charles
City Jazz Festival in Charles City on March 14th.
"This contest was held while the Cherokee students were on Spring Break, but the musicians were dedicated enough to make time in their schedules to have three rehearsals (during the break) to prepare for this contest. "
The 2009 Iowa Jazz Championships will be held on Tuesday, April 14th.
Competition for classes 1A, 2A (Cherokee's class) and 3A will be held at the Polk County Convention Complex, and competition for class 4A will be held at the Des Moines Civic Center. Both venues are located at 501 East Grand Avenue.
The cost of admission for the day portion of the competition is $8. Tickets can only be purchased on the day of the contest.
Tickets to the evening finals are $12. Tickets for the evening finals can only be purchased from the Civic Center Box office. The evening finals concert begins at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center auditorium
For anyone who is interested in attending and supporting the Cherokee Jazz Band and/or other bands' performances, Cherokee is scheduled to perform at 11 a.m. at the Polk County Convention Complex.
Directions to 501 East Grand Avenue : Take I-235 to the 3rd Street exit, then turn south on 3rd St. to Walnut. Parking is available on 3rd Avenue, and there is also a parking lot at 4th and Grand. Street parking is available after 6 p.m.