Letter: Thank you, JAS and Stewart, for the gift of music | AspenTimes.com
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Letter: Thank you, JAS and Stewart, for the gift of music

Thank you, JAS and Stewart, for the gift of music

If anyone has ever watched my daughter Hunter play jazz on her trombone, they know the notes take her over. You may have seen her playing a tune to open for Summer of Music or perhaps one Monday night at Hotel Colorado. She’s the one who plays the trombone with her entire body. Every note of a song, her hips sway, her foot taps and her shoulders follow the rhythm as she immerses herself in the jazz. She has worked hard to be involved with music and jazz opportunities in the valley.

She began playing at Riverside Middle School in fifth grade and continued band when she transferred to Glenwood Springs Middle School. When Tami Suby took over band, she went from loving band to living it. Then, Chris Banks showed up and introduced her to playing jazz. From there, Jazz Aspen Snowmass has provided band camps and honor bands.

When Hunter was in eigth grade, Pablo Gorra started Monday Night Jazz, which welcomes musicians of all levels. With the support of Banks, Tim Fox, Mark Grey, Ashton Taufer, Justin Pfeiffer and local musicians, the Monday Night Jazz jam has flourished. Pablo kept Monday Night Jazz going for the next few years. Hunter continued to play on Mondays when Pablo graduated and handed the reins to Zach Ritchie. When Zack graduated last year, he handed Monday Night Jazz to Hunter. They continue to play every Monday with her house band, Taufer, Pfeifer, Lynn Byers and Issaac Williams.

Hunter also continues with jazz and concert band at Glenwood Springs High School and is now in her junior year. Hunter plans to be a doctor one day, hopefully a surgeon specializing in pediatrics. She believes her music is an intricate part of making that dream come true. Besides the passion and inspiration she gets from playing jazz, she believes that playing an instrument will help her be a better student and a better doctor one day. Jazz Aspen Snowmass continues to help her grow as a musician.

On Jan. 25, during her Monday Night Jazz jam, Jazz Aspen Snowmass surprised her with a new trombone.

Banks announced that friends of dearly departed Stewart Oksenhorn, a longtime writer for The Aspen Times, had sold his CDs and donated the money to provide a “worthy” student with a piece of musical equipment. When Banks brandished the new trombone, Hunter was overwhelmed. Speechless, she held back the tears. After hugs, Hunter expressed her gratitude through a trombone solo. Her emotion poured into the notes, as she bonded with her new instrument. As a mother, I can only compare watching this to watching your child get a new car for their sweet 16 or watching them walk down the aisle. This was one of those moments that you know your child will hold onto forever. Thank you, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, those who helped fund the trombone, Chris Banks and Tami Suby for giving my daughter the gift of music.

Leah Damm

Glenwood Springs


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