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Mission Bay High School will host a pair of fundraisers this spring for their music programs. First up will be a student concert on April 19, at Tango Del Rey, with guest, boogie woogie pianist, Sue Palmer. Then on May 18, the school’s grassy central quad area will be the site of the second annual Jazz on the Green, mini music festival.

According to music director Jean-Paul "J.P." Balmat, himself a former MBHS music student, the school currently has 75 students enrolled in three different ensembles. “Around thirty in my beginning and Jazz Ensemble and the top thirteen students in my top group, the Preservationists,” he said. “Fundraising is the only way we can keep our program growing. With the average price of one instrument being around $1000, we need a way to purchase new instruments and supplies. 90 % of our students rent from the school, so this is where most of our funds go.”

The school is home to nationally acclaimed student combo, the Preservationists, who will perform at both events. Formerly the Mission Bay High School Dixieland Jazz Band, the group toured throughout California and was as known for their signature red striped, 1920’s vintage, costumes, as they were for their music. Balmat opted to trade the decades old look in for more casual modern dress in 2011.

“I know there are people who miss the old outfits,” he said. “Heck, I miss them sometimes. Tradition is hard to break, but I feel it’s always necessary to move forward, still paying respect to the ones before us.” The update extended to the music as well. Whereas the band was previously known primarily as a Dixieland group, the current incarnation’s sound is slightly more expansive. “The Preservationists play something close to traditional New Orleans Jazz, with influences of Swing, Blues and more straight ahead jazz. Just like New Orleans, it’s a melting pot of ideas, influences and sounds.”

On April 19, Sue Palmer will be backed by students on a set of classic tunes such as “St. James Infirmary Blues” and join in on new originals, such as the Balmat penned “Come and See.” “I am honored to be performing with young people who are so excited about being musicians and have a great future ahead of them,” Palmer said. “I never had these opportunities at their age, so they are way ahead of me. If I can help in anyway, I am happy to do so. “

Beyond the fundraising aspects of the event Balmat considers concerts like this, outside the usual classroom environment, to be important in his student’s development.”I really think our public performances teach students life skills, not just musical ones,” he remarked. “They learn how to work together, communicate clearly and create in the moment. It takes practice, concentration and commitment. It are also shows the community what they are supporting. We are using our resources to better our students,” Balmat said.

Music on April 19 starts at 7 p.m. Tickets to the all ages show are $10. http://www.missionbaymusic.com

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