BARSTOW, Calif. – If you hear the word “jazz” and think “elevator music,” think again. From big band tunes to soul, a big part of the genre’s allure is its versatility, according to Barstow High School Band Director Dan Barilone and members of Barstow High’s ‘Jazztecs’.
On May 10-11, the Jazztecs will host guest artists Tom Politzer and Adolfo Acosta for the ninth annual Atomic Jazz concert in Barstow. The second night, May 11, is a free performance exclusively for military service members, first responders and their families. The show will have something for everybody, Barilone said.
“We have everything. We’ve got the rock, we’ve got funk, we’ve got the ballads, we’ve got swing – anything a jazz band should be playing, we’re going to be playing.”
Politzer, on saxophone, and Acosta, on trumpet, are both part of the iconic Tower of Power horn section. The band was founded in Oakland in 1968 and has recorded with a diverse array of artists, including Aerosmith, Elton John, Little Feat, Phish, Santana and Heart. For nearly a decade, members of the group have made the trip to Barstow to share a stage with the Jazztecs.
“They hype us up – I think we’re good and we’re better when they get here,” said Barilone. “It’s just been a great friendship that we’ve developed with the guys over the years, and they’ll come in and remember these kids by name.”
Barilone served as a U.S. Army bandsman in the 1970s, and he said he knows the importance of entertainment when it comes to the troops.
“We try to get involved in as many military things as possible,” he said. “I know the importance of having music around, versus a boom box. If we can substitute for that any time, I’m all for it.”
The Jazztecs perform regularly throughout the Barstow community, something the students say is an important part of the band.
“Sometimes we’ll play for the elderly, sometimes we play for elementary schools, so it really just depends, and I just love seeing the reactions of people,” said Malik Snoubar, lead trumpet for the Jazztecs and a senior at Barstow High School. “They enjoy having us, and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Michael Edwards, the Jazztec’s lead trombone and also a senior at Barstow High School, added that the community concerts are important because Barstow has been supportive of the school’s music programs, even as music programs have been cut elsewhere across the country. And the biggest concert of all is Atomic Jazz, he said.
“The two big guys, Tom Politzer and Adolfo Acosta from Tower of Power, they definitely make the show what it is. When they come around, the band just gets a lot tighter and it’s a great concert,” Edwards said. “These are guys that are well known across the world, and to have them in Barstow is something amazing.”
The show on Friday, May 11 is free for military members and their families. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Barstow. Tickets for the public show on May 10 are $10.