Petaluma fundraiser lets teen musicians open for pros

Fine-tuning their instruments and loosening their chops, the Petaluma High School jazz ensemble rehearsed the final time Friday for Saturday's big-stage gig with Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

Each year, band director Cliff Eveland books a major concert for the teenage jazz band to open for at the Mystic Theatre. The event is a fundraiser for the award-winning music program.

The 8 p.m. show should be jumpin'. Smith and her eight-piece band are standards in the high-energy swing dance world. The sultry Smith, who lives in San Francisco, evokes a sensuous era of glamorous jazz divas, drawing on the influences of legends Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith.

The high school band has a wide-ranging, up-tempo set planned, with a Dizzy Gillespie tune to open, a Latin jazz song and Duke Ellington's "I'm Just a Lucky So and So."

"Ready, one, two, three, four," Eveland called out to the two dozen young musicians Friday morning in their last practice session.

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