Alumni Jazz Band holds fourth annual reunion concert
Press Staff Report
The Charles City Alumni Jazz Band got together for its fourth annual reunion and public concert Saturday night at the Youth Enrichment Center at the Floyd County Fairgrounds.
Several dozen musicians have gathered each year since the inaugural event in 2016, joining to play jazz music and to honor beloved music educators from the school district.
Alumni from all over the country took part. The musicians got together on Friday to practice — which included sharing favorite memories and a jam session. The public was invited to both the rehearsal and the concert. Musicians were sent music and other information in advance of the event to also practice on their own.
The Alumni Jazz Band was under the direction of Gene Martin, longtime Charles City music teacher, band director and music department supporter.
Martin started in Charles City in 1961 after being recruited by the late Bob Gower to take over the orchestra program, grades 4-12, and to direct one of the junior high bands. He taught at Charles City from 1961 to 1997 and helped Gower start the jazz program.
Mitzi Gower DeGroote, one of the organizers of the reunion, is the daughter of Gower, director of bands for Charles City High School from 1961 to 1979 and head of the music department for nearly 20 years.
The Alumni Jazz Band was started in 2016 to honor the legacy of Gower, Martin and Chuck Ruzicka. The three worked together as teachers at around the same period of time at Charles City High School.