The MV Big Band’s first-ever winter jazz festival was a double triumph for the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School music program led by teacher Ray Fallon.

On Friday night at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center, the big band gave a series of outstanding performances while hosting other Island groups for a generous evening of live music before a sizeable and delighted audience. The ticket sales from Friday’s concert will also cover a band trip to New York city for a national competition in February, Mr. Fallon told the enthusiastic crowd.

The MV Big Band recently submitted a video audition for the 15th annual Charles Mingus High School Competition at the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York city next February, he said.

Established in the 2021-2022 school year, Mr. Fallon’s first at MVRHS, the big band now is 18 members strong, with more than a dozen horns and a robust rhythm section featuring vibes and congas as well as piano, upright bass and trap drums.

Jack Crawford on the keys. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Mr. Fallon, a brass player himself, directs the band with the help of two other instructors, percussionist Ian Lisi and saxophonist Steve Tully.

On Friday, the young musicians lost no time establishing their jazz credentials, opening the festival with a hard-charging rendition of Ecclusiastics by the late Mr. Mingus, an influential 20th-century bassist, bandleader and composer born in 1922.

Pianist Jack Crawford and tenor saxophonists Jacob Glasgow and Georgia Magden soloed on the complex, mood-shifting tune, one of three Mingus works in the evening’s program.

The big band featured solos from vibraphonist Owen Kiernan and bassist Elliot Stead on Mr. Mingus’s sauntering, brassy Nostalgia in Times Square (later retitled Strollin’).

Mr. Fallon also led the band through the 1939 swing classic In a Mellow Tone by Duke Ellington, with trombonists Katie Ogden and Zyler Flanders stepping forward one by one for solos, and Sugar Rum Cherry, a reimagined Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Mr. Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s 1960 big band version of The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky.

Music director Ray Fallon started the jazz just one year ago. — Mark Alan Lovewell

On Sugar Rum Cherry, drummer Connor Graves laid sticks and brushes aside, playing his kit with hand and arms only in a captivating performance of pure swing. Ms. Magden was featured again on tenor saxophone.

The big band ended the night with one more tune by Mr. Mingus, who briefly played in Mr. Ellington’s orchestra in 1953 and is said to have been the only musician ever fired outright by the famously affable bandleader. Eli Friedman was the saxophone soloist on Fables of Faubus, Mr. Mingus’s protest against the Arkansas governor who mustered the National Guard against school integration in 1957. Like Ecclusiastics and the Mingus masterwork Meditations on Integration, the work is both challenging and thrilling in its tempo shifts and circling horn lines.

Mr. Friedman also played an earlier set with the MV Jazz Combo, an offshoot of the big band that Mr. Fallon said rehearses on its own and mostly without instruction. With Mr. Crawford on piano, Mr. Stead on bass and Mr. Graves on drums, the quartet played Blue Bossa, a tune by trumpeter Kenny Dorham that was first recorded in 1963 and has become an instrumental standard, and welcomed singers Ava McGee and Samuel Hines for vocal turns.

Ms. McGee, who played Madame Thénardier in the high school’s Les Misérables last winter, reverently sang Billy Holiday’s God Bless the Child, and Samuel Hines delivered a supple, warm rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, with Mr. Friedman adding the voice of his soprano sax.

In other nods to the season, Mr. Crawford led a light-footed version of Linus and Lucy, Vince Guaraldi’s bustling piano-trio theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas and, in the evening’s only solo performance, Mr. Kiernan played a pensive, chiming arrangement for vibes of Mr. Guaraldi’s Christmas Time is Here.

Samuel Hines and Eli Friedman. — Mark Alan Lovewell

MVRHS junior Kestutis Biskis appeared not with a school group, but as a multi-instrumentalist in the Lucas Ostinato Trio led by Edgartown School music teacher Lucas Andrade with Mr. Biskis’s father Taurus Biskis on drums. The younger Mr. Biskis played both piano and electric guitar with precision — and without sheet music — as the trio performed music by Brazilian composers Hermeto Pascoal and Waldir Azevedo and American guitarist Pat Metheny.

The festival also presented a cabaret-style set by two versatile Island musicians, pianist Jeremy Berlin and vocalist Rose Guerin, with standards such as Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust and the bluesy Why Don’t You Do Right.

Mr. Berlin switched to electric organ for an energetic soul revue by Darby Patterson and the Jelly Roll Horns, with Mr. Tully joining the sax line-up and Darby Patterson singing 1960s hits by the Staple Singers (Respect Yourself), James Brown (Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag) and Solomon Burke (Cry to Me) as well as You Go Down Smooth by the 21st-century group Lake Street Dive.

Billed as the First Annual Winter JazzFest, the big band’s festival debut welcomed listeners to a new era for the high school music program, which this year received school committee permission to sell off more than a dozen guitars and accept donations of new brass, reed and rhythm instruments.

Among the donors is Act Two, the nonprofit secondhand store on Main Street in Vineyard Haven that supports youth arts, manager Kevin Ryan told the Gazette. The shop is funding a new, $9,000 upright bass for the school, where Mr. Stead is currently playing an instrument rented by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, Mr. Ryan said.

Upton Bass String Instrument Co. in Connecticut is making the bass, which should be finished early in the new year, Mr. Ryan said.

Meanwhile, the jazz wave continues at MVRHS, where the school musical for 2023 is Chicago. Mr. Fallon has also talked, at school committee meetings, about developing a pep band and/or a drum line for school events. But such programs take years to develop, he said.

More pictures.