West Essex Regional High School junior Jason Ajmo will celebrate Thanksgiving marching down the streets of Philadelphia, playing his clarinet as a member of the Tournament of Bands All-Star Band in the 92nd Annual ABC/IKEA Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Jason, 16, a member of the West Essex Marching Band, began playing the clarinet in the fourth grade at Gould School in North Caldwell. As a member of the band, Jason said he learned of another student, Mark Traverso, a trombonist who graduated from West Essex in June, who had performed in the tournament band and had a great experience.
“I applied to be in the band last June and I am the only one representing West Essex,” he said. “I am honored and proud that I am the lucky one who gets to represent us.”
Jason will rehearse with the group the day before Thanksgiving and the day of the parade and then spend Thanksgiving morning marching and performing. The band will perform “Holiday at the Art Museum,” a piece by Thomas Beebee, who is also conducting the band. The percussion in the piece is by C. Miller.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people in the Tournament of Bands All-Star Band and hopefully make new friends,” Jason said. “I hope I will learn some new marching skills and also some new musical skills.”
Jason plays first clarinet in the West Essex High School concert band and also plays in the jazz band, wind ensemble and a saxophone quartet. Jason did not always play the clarinet, however. He started out playing the snare drum, he said. “One day I saw a friend playing the clarinet and I picked it up,” and thought it looked like an interesting instrument. “I starting learning and I have been playing it ever since.”
Jason will be one of more than 200 musicians representing 120 marching bands from all across the east coast in the parade, he said.
West Essex High School Band Director John Scozzaro praised Jason. “Jason Ajmo is an incredibly talented musician,” Scozzaro said. “He is the type of person that understands all aspects of music. He plays clarinet in our marching band and concert band and has even learned saxophone to play in our jazz band and saxophone quartet. Jason also takes piano lessons on the side.
“Above all else, he is a great student and person and is always looking to improve,” Scozzaro said. “Jason is the type of student every band director wishes he or she had in their program. We are very lucky to have him in ours.”