The baritone sax player isn’t loud enough. He’s playing all his lines flawlessly, but the big sax doesn’t cut through the way it should.

Greg Thomas, Albemarle High School’s band director, stops his jazz ensemble and addresses the player directly.

“Did you ever see the movie ‘San Andreas?’” Thomas asks. A series of groans rises in the sections. “You know that scene where the cruise ship smashes into the Golden Gate Bridge? That’s what I’m looking for.”

“Do you want me to play that way the whole time?” the student asked.

Thomas’ reply was concise: “Till I tell you to stop.”

The players in the AHS Jazz Ensemble have been going hammer and tongs this year to get ready for the program’s most ambitious festival appearance to date, Swing Central Jazz, a part of the Savannah Music Festival specifically for high school jazz bands.

The band auditioned for the festival, which runs March 30 to April 1, with little hope that it would be one of 12 programs in the country to be invited, so they had not budgeted the travel expenses.

Enter John D’earth, Charles Owens, Terri Allard and a raft of their friends.

Allard, D’earth and Owens, staples of the Charlottesville music community, will help the band gather the rest of the money they need for the trip at a show Sunday at the Southern Café and Music Hall on the Downtown Mall.

“They have been working really hard, and it has been a real community effort. It has just been really, really lovely,” Allard said. “This will be the last fundraising effort that should seal the deal.”

Allard, whose son, Will Evans, is a ninth-grade trumpet player in the ensemble, is slated to play a 45-minute set with her trio.

“It’s a handful of artists who really believe in supporting music in our community. We didn’t hesitate – we said, ‘We’re there,’” she said.

For D’earth, a self-described musical evangelist, supporting Thomas and the Jazz Ensemble is a way of spreading the gospel.

“I am a huge supporter of Greg Thomas and the Albemarle High School music program, because I think that it is emblematic of what music education could be in schools,” he said. “He is obsessed with doing music with these kids, and he is incredibly skilled at all kinds of music. It is incredibly odd to have someone who is equally skilled with marching band as he is with jazz band, you almost never get that.”

D’earth and his quintet will play a 45-minute set of what he calls “straight-ahead jazz” – a collection of ’50s and ’60s bebop, selections from the Great American Songbook and a smattering of originals.

Garen Dorsey, a 2014 graduate of Albemarle High School who played saxophone in the jazz band, signed on to play piano with D’earth.

“We definitely went on some awesome trips and played some awesome festivals, but it seems like Mr. Thomas’ aspirations and dreams for the band get bigger and bigger every year, and he always makes it happen,” Dorsey said. “I am super happy to be able to help out the program that helped me out so much.”

On performance day in Savannah, the AHS players will have to work hard to stand out among the 11 other schools, as the festival requires each ensemble to play the same tunes.

Nailing down a unique take on a classic tune is a collaborative process, Thomas said.

“We go at it sort of systematically. Everyone is required to come up with something. In music and in classrooms there is a lot of, ‘do what you’re told,’” he said. “[The students] are still doing what they are told, but I am telling them to create.”

When the band finds a variation that everyone likes, it gets added to the arrangement.

“The less ego that you have in it, the more freedom you have,” Thomas said. “Then it is more about where the music takes you.”

The lead-up to Swing Central has been a learning experience for everyone in the band, Evans said.

“For everyone in the band, this has been, and will continue to be, a tremendous exercise,” he said. “There are people in the band who are very strong individualists, but this gave them an opportunity to become more constituent parts of a bigger thing.”

Dorsey said Thomas’ directing style gave the AHS band a much different feel than most high-school ensembles.

“Many jazz bands are sort of an afterthought for a lot of schools,” he said. “As far as Albemarle goes . the machine, so to speak, was coming from a more professional-style space.”

The cost of the trip to the festival will be approximately $23,000, and the band has raised most of that amount already.

Doors for Sunday’s show open at 6 p.m., and music starts at 7 with a short set by a select group of players from AHS. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.