The Play Boys

Five West Orange High School students with a passion for jazz.

As Louis Armstrong once said, if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know. With its improvisational flair and rhythmic complexity, jazz music has long captivated musicians and audiences alike. And apparently West Orange teenagers as well.

For Asher, Angelo, Christian, Dylan, and Kaiden, jazz isn’t just music; it’s a way of life, a rebellion against the mainstream cacophony that dominates their peers’ playlists. They find solace in the intricate improvisations of Thelonious Monk and the sultry vocals of Billie Holiday, their spirits soaring with each blistering trumpet solo and mournful piano ballad. These young virtuosos, united by their melomania for jazz, share their experiences, aspirations, and the transformative power of music. Together, their individual talents intertwine to create magic on stage.

Kaiden Hunter found his calling in the deep resonance of the bass. “Originally, I picked the tuba, but my band director nudged me toward the bass for jazz band,” he shares with a grin. “And I’ve stuck with it ever since.”

For Angelo Del Oro, the allure of jazz came through family influence. “My cousin’s trumpet performances sparked something in me,” he explains. “From there, I transitioned from the violin to the trumpet.”

Asher Whitman’s musical journey began unexpectedly, with a piano donated to his family. “I started tinkering with it, and the rest is history,” he says.

Dylan Fontenot’s love for jazz blossomed in high school. “I started on euphonium but longed for the trombone,” he recalls. “Joining the jazz band was a game-changer for me.”

Christian Josil, the cadence of the group, expresses, “I come from a musical family, so I decided to pick up drums. I’ve been playing since middle school.”

Their bond transcends the school’s jazz band—they often rendezvous at Pilars, a local hotspot for jazz enthusiasts. “We play just about every week. It’s a place where we can express our true selves,” Asher reflects, emphasizing the joy found in their musical exchanges. Dylan nods. “We’ve formed friendships with seasoned musicians and even connected with professors from UCF,” he shares. “It’s a melting pot of inspiration and learning.”

For these young musicians, the stage is both a playground and a proving ground. “Performing live has boosted our confidence dramatically,” Kaiden says with a smile. “It’s where we push ourselves, make mistakes, and grow.” Dylan laughs, “That’s what jazz is:painted over mistakes.” Jazz, they agree, has left an indelible mark on their musical journey. “It’s the pinnacle of musical expression,” Angelo declares. “It’s subjective—unlike other styles of music, jazz allows for endless interpretation and creativity.” Christian muses, “Jazz is colorful, dirty, unpredictable; there isn’t just one word.” In its unpredictability lies its charisma—a space where each performer can express themselves freely. Consider them a new generation of musical guardians, keeping the flame of jazz burning bright for generations to come.

West Orange High School Jazz Band
performs live at the Embassy

The Local/Em Agency team enjoys a mini office concert.

Cookbooks

Mama’s hand me down recipes make delicious reading.

Every week, as Rod Reeves, the founding director of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, conducted art classes for Senior Citizens at Winter Park Community Center, he couldn’t help but overhear the recurring phrases, “Mama cooked” and “Mama said.” The descriptions of homemade dishes stirred his appetite, while the wisdom imparted by these seasoned individuals resonated deeply with his Southern upbringing. To him, these narratives weren’t just nostalgic anecdotes but legacies of culinary expertise and timeless advice. Reeves realized the importance of preserving these traditions to ensure they wouldn’t fade with time. Inspired by the stories shared in his classes, Reeves compiled a cookbook titled Mama Cooked n’ Said, aiming to immortalize the cherished recipes and wisdom passed down through generations.

Cracklin’ Corn Bread

1 ½ cups corn meal
½ tsp. salt
2 tbs. flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 egg, well beaten
3 tsp. baking powder
1 ¼ cup milk
1 ½ cups cracklings

Add flour, com meal, sugar, salt, baking powder, egg, and milk. Add cracklings, beat thoroughly. Bake in well-oiled shallow pan in hot oven (450°) about 25-30 minutes.

Market Watch

Market Must Haves

We’re taking a fresh approach to our Saturday Market, and this month, we asked local vendors to share their favorite products with us. Get ready to discover a curated selection of the very best from our market.

Nick Sovercool
RHN Wagyu LLC

“The Denver Steak is our favorite cut of meat—it tastes like our ribeye, but it’s not as expensive. I could have it with every meal!”

John, Johnny, and Nathan Kresl
Tres Amigos Grill

“Our Steak Stuffed Tacos are mouth-watering. It’s a skirt steak, and it just melts in your mouth, creating a savory experience that’s nothing short of extraordinary.”

Olivia & Lorenzo Salas
Tracy’s Cheesecake

“The Strawberry Classic is our best seller, delivering a burst of fresh strawberry goodness that perfectly complements the rich, creamy texture of our classic cheesecake.”

Closer to the Heart

The French Family Foundation making a difference
for families with disabilities one child at a time.

In 2021, Kelly French embarked on a mission close to her heart, fueled by personal experiences and a desire to make a difference. After welcoming her son with a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome in 2013, Kelly’s journey led her to the heart of the disability community. In 2020, the family expanded through adoption, embracing a child with autism, ADHD, and apraxia.

Driven by compassion, the French Family Foundation was born in 2021, aiming to support local families with disabilities. Kelly expresses, “Our mission is to provide support to local families of people with disabilities, as well as giving financial support to families looking to adopt children with a disability.”

Despite facing challenges in awareness, the foundation has garnered positive community response through initiatives like 5k fundraisers and virtual receptions. Kelly emphasizes the importance of overcoming hurdles, stating, “Our two biggest struggles are getting the word out and finding more board members.”

With a vision for the future, the foundation aims to raise $100,000 in 2024, intending to address immediate needs and pave the way for businesses providing employment for people with disabilities.

Kelly finds fulfillment in the impact, noting, “The best part is meeting people we’ve helped, sponsors, and donors who are passionate like we are. It feels like we’re going down the right path, making a difference, even if it’s just one child at a time.”

To get involved:

frenchfamilyfoundation.com

Dive into the heartbeat of our community with Vocal Locals, where we turn the spotlight on our neighbors, bringing out the laughter, stories, and unique charm that make our town truly special!

victoria
Victoria Pines
Spice & Tea Exchange

Fave food combination: Beef Kelaguen

Guilty pleasure food: Cookies & cream ice cream

Fave home-cooked meal: My father’s lasagna

Salty or Sweet: Salty

denise
Denise Mead
Swalty Sisters

Fave food combination: Sweet and salty (swalty) 

Guilty pleasure food: Dark Chocolate

Fave home-cooked meal: My mom’s beef stroganoff

Salty or Sweet: Salty

kasey
Kasey Fava
Ancient Olive

Favorite food combination: Freaky Tiki’s Pineapple Pickles

Guilty pleasure food: Tony’s Chocolonely

Fave home-cooked meal: Grilled cheese & tomato soup

Salty or Sweet: Salty

There’s a new vibe in town!

Keep your eyes peeled for this orange golf cart and 6-top bar trailer where Chris Chan will be hosting his new podcast and handing out fun Vibes merch.

Ravings!

Sean O’Neill, the man behind the area’s rowdiest
Facebook group reshares some standouts.

Wanted to RAVE about Sizzlin Greens! We stopped in for lunch today and it was awesome. The space was really clean, well decorated, one of the owners, Jason, greeted us and explained some background on the store: all organic locally sourced produce, grass fed beef, and cage free/antibiotic free chicken. All soups and dressings are made daily in house. My husband had a Pick 2 with the Philly Cheesesteak and Southwest salad with chicken, he said it was amazing, will 100% come back for it and I had the potato soup which was incredible! 

~Rave posted by Taylor Boyer on April 7

Have a rave to share?

Here are five tips for posting a rave on WGRRR: 

1. Always include the business name and location! 

2. If it’s a restaurant, the more descriptive you can get is better. Pictures of the food are always good, and if you had great service, make sure you get the server’s name and mention them. That goes a long way.

3. If it is a service you received, be descriptive, mention the name and location of the business, and the person who helped you.

4. Try to make it short—maybe a paragraph or two. If you write a rave that is a book long, you’re going to lose a lot of the readers.

5. Remember, small businesses thrive with support. If that business has done a great job, they’d love to hear about it.

athleticmotiongolf

Let’s get in the swing of things, literally. At Athletic Motion Golf (@AthleticMotionGolf) you can play a round of indoor virtual goland level up your game.

shentea

When you’re done, head over to  Shen Tea Boba (@shenteaboba) for a freshly-brewed sip and a Korean corn dog.

hiveboutique

Take your Boba on the road and and check out Hive Boutique (@hiveboutiquewg), a women’s shoes and accessories boutique on Boyd Street

Looking for clothes for a younger fashionista? Valerie’s Garden Boutique (@valeriesgardenbabiesandtoddlers) is a children’s-only store showcasing baby and toddler essentials.

sizzlingreens

Lovers of healthy fast food rejoice! Sizzlin Greens (@sizzlingreens) is now open and re-defining what it means to be “quick-service”.  With options for veggie and meat lovers alike, make this a must go when you are out and about.

signaturebakehouse

For those with a sweet tooth, head over to the mall and check out the new home of Signature Bake House (@signature_bakehouse), a Cottage Bakery that specializes in the ”Art of Pie.”

tacospadrisimo

Or, if you’ve been eagerly awaiting the newest queso hot spot, run to Tacos Padrisimo (@tacospadrisimo) now open in the former Tres Amigos space off of Dillard.

wintergardentattoo

Love Winter Garden so much you want to ink it? Well, now you can! Winter Garden Tattoo (@wintergardentattooco) is open and ready to create art for you.

antojitoslocos

Then go show off that ink at Wine O’Clock Bistro (@wineoclockbistro) or Antojitos Loco’s (@antojitoslocosfl) opening soon on McKey Street in Ocoee.

Good News to share?

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