News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 8, 2019
GSA combo jams one last time

GSA’s honors combo Jam Bake

Jam Bake outside the Stonington Opera House moments before taking the stage at the Deer Isle Jazz Festival. From left, Tess Williamson, Quinn Stabler, Courtney Bianco, Duncan Howell, Edward Conte, Erika Hipsky, LeeAnn Varnum and Elana Williamson.

Photo courtesy of George Stevens Academy

George Stevens Academy’s honors combo Jam Bake performed at the Deer Isle Jazz Festival on Friday, August 2, opening for “jazz luminaries” Aruán Ortiz and Don Byron.

It was the final performance together for these musicians, five of whom graduated from George Stevens Academy in June, and a fitting end to a strong performance year that included a Gold Medal 1 rating at the state instrumental jazz festival and a third-place finish at the Berklee festival, according to a news release from the school.

Jam Bake included Courtney Bianco ’19, alto sax; Edward Conte ’19, drums; Erika Hipsky ’20, alto sax and flute; Duncan Howell ’20, trombone; Quinn Stabler ’20, bass; LeeAnn Varnum ’19, soprano and tenor sax; Elana Williamson ’19, vibes and piano; and Tess Williamson ’19, piano and vocals.

“They are a joy to work with,” said director Steve Orlofsky, who also said that he is “looking forward” to working with GSA’s new honors combo, as yet unnamed.

Hipsky, Howell, and Stabler will be joined in the new combo by Gabe Hall ’22, trumpet; Ian Howell ’20, bass; Joseph Mitchell ’20, guitar; and Zeke Sacaridiz ’21, drums.