The jazz skills of seven Gahanna Lincoln High School students have landed them spots in youth groups that are part of the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus.
Senior Jay Sandlin, a trombonist, and Nick Arbogast, a trumpeter, are members of the nationally renowned Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Junior Nate Asamoah, a drummer; senior Andrew Harris, tenor saxophonist; senior Devan Mallory, pianist; and freshman Jacob McFall, a bassist, are members of the Columbus Youth Jazz Studio.
Junior Meg Henry, a trombonist, is a member of the Columbus Youth Jazz Workshop.
Each student was required to prepare an audition in the spring for placement in the different ensembles, said Kelly Shellhammer, Gahanna Lincoln High School jazz bands director.
"It is a big honor for Nick and Jay to be performing with the Youth Jazz Orchestra," she said. "I am thrilled these young people are interested enough in this great music that they are pursuing additional performing opportunities."
The youth jazz orchestra plays from the libraries of legendary big bands including those featuring Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Oliver Nelson, Benny Goodman and Dizzy Gillespie.
Comprising premier musicians in grades 9-12 from central Ohio and beyond, the youth jazz orchestra has a 30-week season during the school year and performs at the Southern Theatre prior to each Columbus Jazz Orchestra Sunday matinee concert.
Arbogast, 18, has been involved with the Columbus program since he was a sophomore.
"It's something I'm passionate about," he said. "I don't think I want to go into music as a career, but I do want to continue playing in college."
Arbogast said the Columbus program offers a different perspective.
"Each person you play with in each band is different," he said. "You adapt and work with people you don't know as well."
During the summer, the group takes trips, he said.
Arbogast said he's looking forward to going to Jazz St. Louis, which promotes performance, education and outreach, in June.
"We played at the Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival this summer," he said. "I've made a lot of friends and challenged myself with music every week."
At Gahanna Lincoln, Arbogast is a member of the marching band, the Gold Band (Lincoln's top concert band) and jazz band.
After graduation, he hopes to major in economics at the University of Miami, Florida, or Duke University.
Shellhammer said those who direct the youth jazz ensembles -- Mark Donavan, Ryan Hamilton and Matt James -- are among the area's most talented jazz musicians and educators.
"Our Gahanna students are blessed to have earned the privilege of playing in these distinguished ensembles," she said.