Tag Archives: Staples High School jazz band

Roundup: Art Show, Beechwood, Private Benjamin …


Here’s news to put a spring in your step:

Staples High School’s Jazz Combo earned 1st place at the 2021 National Jazz Festival this weekend. They competed in Small Ensemble Division 1 Live Performance.

Leading the quintet were seniors Lucas Lieberman (piano) and Abe Rubin (bass). The other members are sophomores: Noah Jahnel (tenor saxophone), Delaney McGee (trumpet), and Witt Lindau (drums).

Lucas was named the Superior Musician for the division, while Delaney and Witt were selected as 2 of the 3 Outstanding Musicians.

The Staples High School Jazz Ensemble participated in the Large Ensemble Division 1 Live Performance competition. Though they did not place, the adjudicators called the ensemble a “swingin’ band” and “one of the better bands that we’ve heard, in a tough division.” Congratulations to director Phil Giampietro, and all the musicians!

Click here to hear the Jazz Combo. Click here for the Jazz Ensemble.


Westport’s back-to-normal journey continued yesterday, with a pair of just-like-old-times events.

The Westport Woman’s Club held its annual-except-for-last-year art show. Paintings, photos, ceramics — all by local artists — were admired (and bought) by a large, joyful bunch of happy-to-be-back art lovers.

Miggs Burroughs and Nina Bentley were among the artists exhibiting at yesterday’s Westport Woman’s Club show.

And  Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito opened Beechwood — their Weston Road home, where they host regular arts salons (and more) — to the public, for the first time in a year.

The grounds were spectacular. Especially the centerpiece: an ancient copper beech tree, which gives the property and the arts series its name.

The Beechwood copper birch tree. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)


COVID stopped many things this year — but not the National Charity League.

Yesterday, Staples High School’s chapter of the mother/daughter community service organization honored 5 pairs — each of whom did more than 30 hours annually — with a “car caravan.”

It ended with a ceremonial “tea” at Ned Dimes Marina, for all 16 seniors.

National Charity League seniors, at Ned Dimes Marina. Back row (from left): Lauren Spheeris, Milei Wyatt, Grace Maloney, Tatiana Bicalho, Daphne Baker, Hannah Murphy, Kaytlyn Carnahan, Callie Rourke, Kyla Race. Front row: Maya Sampath, Abby Ragland, Isabelle Gerard, Hayley Buckman, Elana Lundbye, Sarah Corneck, Chloe Chaple..


Just added to the Remarkable Theater’s schedule: “Private Benjamin.” It’s this Thursday (May 27, 8 p.m.). The parking lot opens at 7 p.m., for tailgating.

Click here for tickets, and more shows.

“Private Benjamin”


Boston College’s “Spoon River Revival” has won the Outstanding Creative Ensemble Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Four cast members — including Staples High School Class of 2020 graduate Nick Rossi — were chosen to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition. The award provides recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student performers for the further pursuit of education. Click here for the full story.

Emily (Sophie Rossman) and George (Nick Rossi) at the soda shop, in Staples Players’ production of “Our Town.” (Photo/Kerry Long)


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from downtown, via Frank Rosen:

(Photo/Frank Rosen)


And finally … on this day in 1624, Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for the Dutch, from the Lenape Native Americans.

It is commonly believed the price was $24 worth of trinkets. It was actually “60 guilders worth of trade” — approximately $1,143 in 2020 dollars.

So today’s featured artist and song are no-brainers:




Pop! Go The Concerts

If you missed last Friday’s Staples High School concert, you weren’t alone. Tickets went faster than “Springsteen on Broadway” (and, being free, for a lot less cash).

But you don’t have to wait a year for the next one.

Here, thanks to the indefatigable Jim Honeycutt, is the entire show.

The symphonic band and orchestra, jazz band and choral group Orphenians — they’re all here.

So is a special tribute to retiring orchestra director Adele Valovich. The show is narrated by actor/director James Naughton.


BONUS REEL: As if that’s not enough, here’s the recent spring concert, featuring Nick Mariconda’s Staples jazz band, and their Bedford Middle School counterparts, led by Gregg Winters.

Becca Webster Hits Like A Girl

Fewer than 10% of all drummers are girls or women. Social and cultural barriers lead many aspiring female musicians to instruments like piano, violin and flute.

Hit Like a Girl” is an annual contest to counter that trend. Organized by big drum manufacturers and magazines, this year’s event drew entrants from ages 6 to 60, and nearly 50 countries. Their videos were judged by top drummers — including those with Beyonce and Red Hot Chili Peppers — on technique, chops, originality, creativity, groove and feel.

Last year’s Under-18 winner was from Indonesia. The year before that: Japan.

Drum roll, please! The 2016 “Hit Like a Girl” best drummer in the world is … a Westporter.

Becca Webster — a Staples High School freshman — beat out every contestant, from around the world. Her runnerup came from Poland.

Becca Webster, in action.

Becca Webster, in action.

Last year, Becca finished 2nd. She’s won other prizes — including as a soloist with the Staples High School jazz band, and on tour with the School of Rock All-Stars — but this was her biggest stage ever.

The call came — of course — while Becca was practicing with a jazz band.

In addition to tons of industry exposure, Becca gets a new drum kit and cymbals. Plus endorsement opportunities, and the chance to appear in ads and at clinics.

Becca began drumming when she was 3 years old. Her grandmother tapped out a rhythm, and urged the toddler to repeat it back.

“Nana” grew up in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, at a time when girls did not drum. But she started taking lessons in her 50s, and discovered a natural sense of timing and rhythm. When Becca turned 8, her grandmother gave her a drum kit.

She worked for 2 years on fundamentals, speed, technique and timekeeping with Tom Geisler, before learning to play songs. The teacher also sparked her interest in jazz.

At 10, Becca joined School of Rock. Director Frank Perrouna helped her learn responsibilities, like creating and keeping the groove going.

In a band setting, playing music from prog to Motown, she realized that a drummer’s job is “not to squeeze as many notes as possible into a measure, but to play musically, tastefully and in the pocket.”

As house band captain for School of Rock’s Fairfield house band, she’s learned to arrange songs, and pick apart every instrument.

Becca's got the beat!

Becca’s got the beat!

She’s watched with satisfaction the growth of girl drummers in the area. Some call her their inspiration.

Becca’s contest video songs are different from her usual groove playing. But she loves the polyrhythms and layering of parts with each limb. The songs forced her to work on 4-way independence.

Lately, studying with Adrian Tramontono of the band Kung Fu, Becca has gotten into jazz/fusion music. Working around his touring schedule, he pushes her on soloing and improvisation.

Her goal is to make music her career. Becca would love to become a session drummer, or play in a band.

She is just 15 years old. That means Becca has a chance to 3-peat as the Under-18 “Hit it Like a Girl” champ.

Unless, of course, she’s too busy playing around the world to bother entering.

Hit it, girl!