By Emmanuel Gutierrez |Asst. Features Editor|
Prior to the concert, audience members were guided through an East Coast style swing dance by a CSUSB faculty member. I politely declined; I only know how to dance ironically.
The moody blue foreground lighting juxtaposed the eerie, sangria-colored background—its warmth seeped through, advancing as the coolness receded.
The jazz band created a sophisticated kind of cool ambiance, backed up against tall, sable curtains of matte cloth.
There was the punchy, thundering brass section; smooth, virile sax septet; duel electric guitar and keyboard players; thumping, romping percussionists; and the vocal marvel of the evening: Jessica Guptin.
“The songs were totes b*tchin’!” said student Jimmy Montano.
Soft, light pattering of percussion on animal-skin membranes, in addition to the twangy, cool keyboard duet, composed harmonies reminiscent of summer rain: Thump-tap-trickle-patter.
Like coiled strings of Christmas lights, the silver-white trombone bells refracted the stage lights in hypnotic, circular distortions.
Sporadic, yet systematic crescendo from the Saxes of tenor, alto, and bari died away just as they came, blaring oscillating patterns like sneaky fireworks.
The robust trumpet section sung as one—extremely well. There was a pleasant absence of the wavering, alien tractor beam effect that occurs when instruments are not in tune.
Tug-of-war matches between brass and woodwind clashed back and forth in counter-synchronization, filling the pockets of silence with their riveting, contrapuntal renditions.
“My favorite parts included the amazing singer, I believe she has an opera background. She was breathtaking!” said Carmen Murrillo.
The lady with the iron lungs, the killer pipes CSUSB graduate, and opera-trained Jessica Guptin commanded the stage.
She was powerful, yet enchanting—when she sang, the world listened.
She pulled off vocal techniques with such control and precision, gracious enough to exhibit her vocal prowess.
The melodies were rejuvenating to my body, mind, and soul, relieving the scar tissue comprised of my jading, internal vexations and venomous melancholia.
“The solos really gave the performances an extra oomph, like the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop,” said student Jessica Garcez.
Steven Simmons, alto sax soloist, impressed with his enthralling tunes—his fingers raced up and down the registers in Mazola fluidity.
The tenor in the white button up and black frames, a chicken little of a man, stood to play his solo, confidently bopping his head to and fro.
During the most toe-tapping, finger-snapping arrangements, a dancing couple in elegant, effortless footwork bopped and socked on the floor in matching Clorox-white trainers like a merry-go-round that never ended—and you didn’t want it to.
They swept the Saltillo-hued floor with nimble, nuanced articulation of the feet, shoulders, and arms—swaying, hopping, scooting, almost moon-walking as if on a frictionless surface.
The experience can only be surmised as finding oneself in an episode of Cowboy Bebop. Bang.