FCC Jazz Concert Showcases a Variety of Styles

March 22, 2017


Photo by: Larry Valenzuela

Chris Estrada performing a saxophone solo in the FCC Combos in the Fresno City College Theatre on March 14, 2017. Photo/ Larry Valenzuela

The Fresno City College Music Department held a jazz concert featuring jazz combos, vocal jazz ensembles and a Latin jazz ensemble on March 14 in the FCC Theatre.

The concert featured FCC Combos North, South, East and West, vocal jazz ensembles Jazz Express and Jazz Extension, and the FCC Latin Jazz Ensemble.

Introducing the first set of performances was director Larry Honda, who insisted to “let the jazz do the talking.”

Opening was the North Combo, performing their rendition of “Mr. P.C.” by John Coltrane. Each member of the combo had a mini solo accompanied by drums and bass guitar to keep the rhythm going. Originally a jazz-swing tune, the North’s version of “Mr. P.C.” took on a slightly reggae-influenced tone.

Next up was “Work Song” by Cannonball Adderley, performed by the South Combo. Members of this combo played soulfully and visibly showed their passion for jazz while performing.

The East Combo then performed “Blue Bossa” by Kenny Dorham. A few members of this combo switched between multiple instruments during this set, including John Trujillo on the tenor saxophone and flute, and Jack Landseadel on trombone and bongo.

Concluding the jazz combos was the West Combo, who performed “Nica’s Dream” by Horace Silver. Setting this piece apart from the previous combos was the use of vibraphones, played by Cheyenne Garcia.

Vocal jazz ensembles directed by Mike and Julie Dana were next to perform. The singers, dressed in sleek black and red accented outfits, performed a total of four songs.

Jazz Express performed a vocal rendition of Dorham’s “Blue Bossa,” “Lullaby of Birdland” by George Shearing, and “But Beautiful” by J. Burke and J. Van Heusen.

Jazz Extension, a smaller group of singers from the Jazz Express, then performed “Basically Blues” by Phil Wilson and “Sometimes I’m Happy” by V. Youmans and I. Caesar.

Standing out from these vocal performances were singers Mikole Her and Bernadette LaMontagne-Schenck. Both were able to showcase their powerful vocal range during their short features.

To close the show, the Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by George Ramirez, performed three songs: “Ronita’s Nightmare” by Michael Phillip Mossman, “Café con Azucar” by Wayne Wallace, and “Keiko Jones” also by Mossman.

The Latin Jazz Ensemble took on a mostly Afro-Cuban tone with their performances, and featured heavy use of timbales, congas, bongo and chekeré in addition to traditional jazz instruments.

Their final song featured soloists “trading eights,” or taking turns playing for 8 bars at a time. Alto and tenor saxophonists Stoney Dodson and Anthony Arias were featured trading eights, as well as Cameron Golling and Ryan Fromuth on trombone and trumpet, respectively.

Jazz can be an intimidating genre, but this concert proved that anyone can enjoy jazz. The performances kept audience members thoroughly entertained through each set by letting them listen to the smooth sounds of jazz.

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