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TEEN CARRIES ON FLOOR MUSIC TRADITION

Years ago Bill Floor played a mean clarinet. Then the family music legacy became the responsibility of son Jerry, who is a prominent real estate agent and the leader of his own big band, which has been a fixture in the Salt Lake area for years.

And now the baton - or perhaps more accurately, the reeds - are being passed along to Jerry's 17-year-old son, Greg.Greg Floor, a senior at Skyline High School, recently returned from his first visit to New York City, where he joined 24 other high school seniors nationwide to comprise the McDonald's All-American High School Band, sponsored by McDonald's and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Floor was the lead alto sax player during the weeklong New York event, and "it certainly was the height of my music career. I hope it's a new plateau for me," says Floor.

Becoming a member of the country's jazz prep creme de la creme may not be as mathematically difficult as winning a lottery, but it's close.

The annual process begins with the sponsors sending two applications to every high school in the country. Then the 27,000 applicants make an audition tape and prepare a resume. The bulky field is eventually reduced to 53 semifinalists - one from each state and territory - and each gets a $1,000 grant donated to his school. Members of the judging panel then re-listen to the audio tapes and review the resumes before cutting the field of candidates to the final 25.

For Greg Floor, it was a bittersweet experience because close friend Evan Coombs - "an incredible bassist" - was the other Skyline applicant "and I thought Evan would be chosen from Utah because there are not that many good young bassists in the country. We waited until the last minute to enter, and then we shook hands and said, whatever happens."

Greg lugged his alto and soprano saxes, clarinet, flute and piccolo to New York, but he was asked to play just the alto and piccolo.

"We had 21/2 hours of daily rehearsals, and when we weren't playing we toured New York. We performed at the LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts and at the Grammy nominee party at a New York restaurant. Going to the Grammy Awards was the highlight," says Greg. "It was the neat-est thing, the best. I couldn't believe I was there."

Floor says that every member of the band "was so good that no one stood out. But the two top tenor players - one from New Orleans and the other from Oregon - were incredible. After one of my solos, one of them leaned over and said, `Hey, you sound so much like Phil Woods and David Sanborn.' Well, those two, along with my grandfather and father, have been major influences on me. So I thought I had better broaden my horizons," Greg says with a big smile, "So I went out and bought some John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Branford Marsalis."

Greg says music is his love, but his current plans are to attend the University of Utah and major in business. "Music will always be there," he says. "I'd like to help promote live music because it looks like it's going down the tube. My father visited Las Vegas and he said everything is recorded these days."

Greg sits in with his father's big band "every once in a while, but he wants me to get better on the flute. And the Floor music isn't just my dad and me. My 20-year-old sister, Emilee, is a heckuva piano player."