North High School jazz band

The North High School jazz band rehearses on April 6, 2011. The organization has won numerous awards. 

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City North High jazz band has become a mainstay in Iowa Jazz Championships and has earned the reputation of one of the state’s premier jazz bands.

The band has claimed 12 Class 4A state titles and has placed in the top eight for nearly 20 straight years. 

Tours have brought the band to the Midwest Music Convention in Chicago and the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 2006.

Director Lucas Sursley says the band’s rise to prominence was fueled by longtime director Larry Kisor, who helped North become a repeat presence at the Iowa Jazz Championships. The success after Kisor, Sursley said, is a result of the band’s winning culture.

“That became expected at North High,” he said.

Nearly 20 students practice 6:45-8 a.m. every Monday-Friday during the winter season and compete at six to eight competitions a year. Sursley said the band also jumps at the opportunity to perform locally, with shows and concerts for nonprofit organizations, banquets and other appearances.

Sursley said the band uses a set of four songs for contests, but learns up to 10 in case a mid-season change is needed.

The band’s presence at contests throughout the state has generated a lengthy resume of wins, awards and trophies, which Sursley said has caused a welcomed clutter in the trophy case.

“It’s pretty incredible how many things are around,” he said. “It’s becoming a storage problem -- but a good problem to have.”

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