By Rod King

For IN|fort wayne publications

After a highly successful trip to the state jazz band finals in which they were judged best band, the North Side High School Wildsiders are now preparing for a concert May 25 in the school auditorium.

The ensemble won the DeKalb District competition and then earned the top band designation over winners of seven other districts around the state. In addition, they won four of the five top soloist honors (trumpet, trombone, piano and flute) along with awards for the best trumpet and rhythm section.

“We’ve won numerous jazz, concert and marching competitions over the years,” says band director Ed King, “but I think this, for me at least, is the pinnacle of my 45-year career here. This is an extremely talented group of kids who work very hard. They’re the ones who are waiting for the school doors to open and they’re always eager to get to work. In fact, they’re in all our ensembles. What makes it extra special,” he added, “is that my grandson, junior Nathaniel King, is a member of the group.”

According to King, North Side had a good band program going long before taking over for Barry Ashton who moved to Northrop to start a band program there.

“I’m a South Side High School graduate and played trombone in the bands and orchestra and the all-city bands and orchestras , as well. North Side always impressed me when I saw them in the Three Rivers Festival parades. They were big and sounded great!” King said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Indiana University Purdue University at Fort Wayne and a master’s degree at Ball State University, he ended up doing his student teaching at North Side and never left.

“I set goals for myself and the program every year. Once you achieve a little success, you want to keep it going and improve on it every year. It’s really exciting for me to hand these kids a tough piece of music and within a few days have them performing it well. And it makes me feel good to see them mature as musicians and individuals.

“A number of our grads have gone on to become excellent professional musicians in the Fort Wayne area and one plays in the pit orchestras for Broadway shows and in a well-known New York City band.

“Over the years it takes a physical toll on you, but I plan to continue doing it because I love these kids and I love all kinds of music.”

King presently performs in the New Millennium Jazz Orchestra, the Old Crown Brass Band and the Three Rivers Brass Ensemble. He performed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra for six years.

Ed King’s North Side High School Wildsiders jazz ensemble recently took top honors at the State Jazz Finals in Indianapolis. King has been band director at North Side for 45 years and plays in a number of local musical organizations.

North Side’s 45th annual Evening of Jazz May 25 will feature the jazz II band, jazz combo band and the Wildsiders. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for K-12 students and can be purchased at the door.