By Ryan Hester |Staff Writer|
The CSUSB Jazz Ensemble gave a wonderful performance March 6 to a packed house at the Performing Arts Theatre.
The concert was presented by the California State music group, as well as band director Dr. Robert Knop and Bradley Hampton. Knop also directs the CSUSB Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo and CSUSB Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
“There is certainly a lot of talent in this program,” said Knop.
Before the concert began, the band members were introduced to the audience.
Performers included sopranos Melanie Gonzales and Hazel Martinez, alto singer Denise Tillman, tenors Eric Sarabia and Steve Morales and baritone Cody Weinmann. Band members included Luis Gonzales on bass, Antonio Miles and Cody Weinnmann on piano, Roberto Ronquillo on the tenor saxophone and Steven Simmons on alto/soprano saxophone.
The show was divided into two parts: the first was vocal jazz and the second was an instrumental jazz combo.
The first half was filled with great music. The first song was “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Aint Got That Swing)” by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills. The song was a great opener that compelled the audience to get involved.
The next piece, “Thinking About Your Body” by Bobby McFerrin, was even better. The arrangement by Kerry Marsh was a success and the singers’ abilities seemed to rival McFerrin himself.
The soloist that performed perfectly captured and executed the emotion behind the music.
Tillman, arguably the most talented singer of the bunch, transformed Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” into something uniquely her own.
Through the entire show the musicians gave outstanding performances. They all played together with great chemistry.
The high-energy ensemble prides itself on performing various jazz styles including swing, funk and Latin. It had rapid changes in tempo and rhythm, going from fast to a standstill, only to pick up the pace again.
“Route 66” was very lively and gave audiences little bit information about what kind of music they were going to perform during the concert.
The most interesting part was when saxophonists Ronquillo and Simmons improved and re-harmonized melody lines by playing different notes and altering the root movements of a tune. The piece, which was put together by pianist Antonio Miles, told a story about a playboy who is involved with many women but wants to settle down.
This was the first night the piece was performed and it was a great success.
The performers were very well skilled with their instruments and showed the audience how wonderful music really is. Each sound highlighted the character abilities of an individual instrument and all of the individual pieces stood on their own as complex musical trinkets.
The entire show was a joy to watch and Dr. Knop has clearly done a great job leading this Jazz Combo.
If you missed the concert, the Jazz Combo will be performing again on Thursday May 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be bought at the box office or online at music.csusb.edu.