Coming back from victorious sets at the Reno Jazz Festival last month, the CSUSB Jazz group showcased their talent with unique sets on May 15 and 17 at the school’s recital hall.
The Jazz Combo and Vocal Ensemble performed songs from the various eras, which included “Canvas” by Robert Glasper, “Lonnie’s Lament” by John Coltrane, “Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson, and “With A Little Help From My Friends” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The Jazz Combo night was directed by professor Kristopher Sveen and the Vocal Jazz Ensemble was directed by professor Bradley Hampton.
Both Jazz groups included graduates, soon to be graduates, and continuing students. As a below average Jazz listener, everyone showcased professional and masterful skills.
On Tuesday evening at the Jazz Combo night, the instrumental solos felt powerful as they were each carried by the drums in the background. Other bandmates seemed to enjoy the solos just as much as the spectators. The solos were followed by applause which kept the vibe of the night going.
As the Jazz Combo members prepared for the next songs in their sets, Professor Sveen would introduce the name of the song and some background information. This detail added to the experience of listening and watching the performances. One can get a sense of the time period and artist that mediated the song’s life.
On Thursday evening, the Vocal Ensemble group showcased their true talent when performing their set. The theme of the night was “Spreading Love Throughout The World.”
An interesting thing about one of the songs of the night called “Spread Love” by Take 6, is that Bradley Hampton was able to get the approval to perform and transcribe the composition personally from Take 6. According to Hampton, the CSUSB Vocal Jazz Ensemble is the only group performing the song which was also included in the award-winning set at the Reno Jazz Festival last month in April.
Before the concert, CSUSB alumnae, Jonathan Frias, also known as “Fizzo”, mentioned that he always expects memorable moments during a show.
“If you are not excited and happy and loving what you’re doing, then why are you doing it?” asked Frias. “So I am always excited to see what the music brings and see what memories are created,” he continued.
Frias came back for the evening to help out with the bass playing in the performances. He performs and tours with the band “Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses” alongside being an Associate Professor at Mt. San Jacinto College in the city of Menifee.
After the concert, I caught up with Erick Valencia, 5-year CSUSB Jazz Vocal Ensemble member, for some final thoughts on the performance since it was a special treat to see him perform on his birthday.
“It was great that I finally, after all these years, sang with my professor on stage,” said Valencia.
They performed “Shower The People” by James Taylor alongside Hampton’s wife and Vocal Ensemble member Kaylee DeLeon.
Valencia looks up to his professor and professor’s wife.
“They’re both great singers, both great musicians and people I look up to, because their heart in music is in the same place that I want to be in”.
The Jazz Combo members include Dakota Daugherty, Greg Trujillo, Ferdinand Torres, Shane Hughes, Josh Ryan, Zen Raynor, Kalomo Johnson, Kole Weber, Mark Garcia, Justin Escamilla, Sean Monslave, Manuel Alfaro and Nate Wallace.
The Vocal Jazz Ensemble includes Kaitlynn Albers, Kimberly Benavides, Gabriela Hernandez, Nicole Perez, Rigo Orozco, Erick Valencia, Kenya Amezcua, Felicia De La Isla, Kaylee DeLeon, Jocelyne Esparza, Samantha Ofurie, Rodrigo Alvarez, Justin Escamilla, Daniel Saenz, and Jordan Thomas.
These concerts on campus give students, strangers, friends and family a look into what the Jazz group prepares for when they go perform and compete at festivals and concerts. The band represents CSUSB at national festivals where CSU and UC schools participate. So to be able to see the final product of what they work hard on is something special and can make any CSUSB student, graduate or faculty member proud.
It was an awesome experience to see both directors of the concerts show gratitude in teaching and working with the Jazz students.
The Jazz concerts were the last ones of the quarter and CSUSB graduates are sent off with a farewell and successful performances, leaving the continuing students with a drive to keep up the reign in the Jazz world.