Jazz trio gives wild performances


March 21, 2024

Shannon Brown

JumpinJazz Kids musicians (from left) Linda Lawson, Mark Oblinger and Eric Thorin performed in the Plains gymnasium last week.

Sanders County students were treated to a special concert last week. JumpinJazz Kids musicians are a traveling trio from Boulder, Colorado, that recently started touring the Northwest.

"This performance is directed at entertaining youth. We did a performance at the Paradise Center on Sunday for adults. We were just jazz performers there. JumpinJazz Kids is what we call our school performances," said founder Mark Oblinger. Plains High School student Jourdin Bonberger said his mom, Ricki Bullock, hosted the Paradise Center show that he attended. "I'm excited to see their performance of JumpinJazz Kids today," he said.

The trio performed at both Plains and Thompson Falls schools on Monday.

Oblinger wrote songs for a children's album that was nominated for a grammy award in 2013. "JumpinJazz Kids album is a swinging jungle tale," Oblinger said. The trio includes Oblinger, the singer/songwriter and guitar player, Linda Lawson on keyboard and vocals, and Eric Thorin on upright bass and vocals. The jazz performance included songs from the album. Students were asked to participate in animal movements and singing.

Each song depicting an individual jungle animal was written about specific jazz artists from American history. The first song was an elephant song about Geraldine Herold, titled This Elephant's Gerald, modeled after jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. "She sure can sing the blues," the song says. Students made elephant trunks with their arms and danced.

The second song was created in the 1950's by Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, with students finger snapping representing a drumming backbeat. "They performed at the Apollo Theater in New York City during the forties and fifties," Oblinger said. Cab Calloway added his scat sounds to the rhythm. "Do do do ya do do dan nana, woo woo" Oblinger sang to introduce "Do the Monkey Swing Song". "When you ain't got time to do a thing, do the monkey swing." They ended the song with Count Basey's signature style of notes that slows the music down. "The ending is called stop-time where the band appears to stop on a heavy accent but the rhythm or time continues,"Oblinger explained.

There was a giraffe song, "One leg, two leg, three leg, four," and a 1950's style bebop from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie with a fast-paced walking bass to represent a hummingbird. The song is about Hector who drinks nectar, "Humming is what I do." Seventh graders, Kingston Nyomo and Gary Rehbein showed off their hummingbird beat.

The finale had kids standing and jumping to the climactic beat of JumpinJazz Tiger. Students jumped and did their jazzy moves. Seventh graders Talon Ferlan and Mason Goodwin are saxophone players who were in the groove. The front row had seventh grade girls swinging to the beat. Cooper Spurr, Kiara Brown, Briana Kulawinski, Karissa French and Zoey Halden were not shy about moving to the music.

"This is a wonderful thing to share with the schools," Oblinger said. He is happy to be back on the road sharing his JumpinJazz Kids songs with students and teaching them a little bit about the history of jazz music. The trio will return to Montana in May to perform in Conrad, Stanford, and Belt. "This has been the first JumpinJazz Kids tour in a long time," Oblinger concluded. He invites anyone who is interested in his musical history or would like to buy a cd to find him on markoblinger.com


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