There’s something about jazz music at the beach that brings a smile.

At least it did Friday evening as the Litchfield High School jazz band performed on the overlook at Lake Ripley.

Near perfect weather greeted what LHS band director David Ceasar called one of the biggest crowds ever for the annual “jazz at the lake” concert. And the music did not disappoint as the band played a variety of jazz songs that had the audience tapping toes and clapping hands throughout the concert, which lasted about an hour.

While many of the band members were highlighted in brief solos, two participants received special recognition.

Portia Lawrence, who isn’t a member of the jazz band, but who agreed to late request from Ceasar to provide vocals for one song, was recognized as the LHS Arion Award winner for 2021. The award honors a student for outstanding achievement by high school musicians in band, choir and drama. They must participate in two of the three categories. Lawrence, a senior, has participated in high school musicals, is colorguard captain for this year’s marching band, and has participated in choir and band throughout her high school career.

Another senior, Joe Panning, received recognition as a rare musical “double” winner. Panning, who Ceasar said practices long hours to refine his saxophone-playing craft, earned the distinguished John Philips Sousa Award and the Louie Armstrong Award this year.

— Brent Schacherer