A vintage 50s sound forged by guitar, piano, and brass solos could be heard as jazz filled the air during a sunny afternoon, complemented beautifully by an arsenal of solo vocalists performing one after another.
The “Studio Jazz Singers and Combo Band” directed by Performing Arts instructor Mary Durst came together Tuesday, Oct. 25. They performed during lunchtime by the Memorial Wall in the Center of the Art’s West Patio to pay tribute to jazz standards dating all the way back to the 40s.
These individual jazz soloists come together from different music classes, crafting their talents separately to form a band for the genre of jazz throughout the semester.
“I’ve taught this program here for more than 10 years,” Durst said. “This class is for the serious-minded musician who seeks to become a professional performer. Students learn and demonstrate a high level of performance skills. This class is on an audition basis and has attracted notable singers such as Natalie Cole and Taylor Swift background singers,” she added.
You could see some spectators present for the event were attentive by the inviting and uplifting vibes coming from the band, attracting more people to sit down and partake in a treat for their ears.
An arsenal of solo vocalists took turns on their respective numbers and were accompanied by talented jazz
instrumentalists.The instrumentalists consisted of piano player, Alexandra Caselli, an electric guitarist, Victor Dawahare, a saxophonist, Joshua Bernardo, on trumpet, Justin Abril, drummer John Paul Tordilla, and stand up bassist Sevan Kendir.
The band opened with “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” an instrumental arrangement written by Joe Zawinull in 1966.They jammed out to start off their show, featuring a saxophone solo by Bernardo, playing the riffs of jazz without a singer.
The series of vocalists that added onto the band displayed versatility in their sequence of song numbers, changing moods subtly as each vocalist chose a different type of song arrangement to cover. Tributing to the different forms of the abstract art as we know as ”jazz,” the choices of each vocalist are brilliant in diversity.
“It’s nice to come together and share with people everything that we’ve all worked so hard on,” vocalist Bobby Novoa said.
Vocalist Kiki Means was the first solo vocalist to be featured, covering an arrangement of the song “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” a classic love ballad written by Cole Porter in 1943.
Next was vocalist Guy Boles, wearing a powder-blue vest to complement his song of choice “Born to Be Blue,” a funky jazz blues song written by Mel Torme and Robert Wells in 1946.
He showed enjoyment throughout the song, performing with an appropriate, pleasant, and thunderous low voice.
Laura Toyne joked with the audience saying “I’m gonna be singing a winter-type song, so try and bear with the mood” chiming in with a wintery classic tune “I’ve got my Love to Keep Me Warm,” by Irving Berlin written in 1937.
Janize Ablaza graced the area with her soft yet strong technique in timbre of voice, almost calming the audience as she pleasantly sang “Lover Man” written by Jimmy Davis, Roger Ramirez, and James Sherman in 1941.
The instrumentalists weren’t left out, as there were more solo arrangements that were performed in between vocalists. “Twisted Blues,” composed by guitarist Wes Montgomery in 1961 and “Recorda-Me” by Joe Henderson in 1963 featured melodious guitar, piano, and brass solos by Dawahare, Abril, Bernardo, Kendir, and Caselli.
“Many of our musicians transition easily into the ‘real world of gigging’ because they experience and play more than 60 songs per semester and perform around 40 songs in a ‘real gig’ setting by the end of the semester. Personally, I am always humbled by the wonderful talent I witness every semester,” Durst said. “It’s a blessing!”
Rex Wilde tributed his talents to the song “In a Mellow Tone,” written in 1946 by Duke Ellington followed by Doris Nitson who happily sang an upbeat swing jazz arrangement of “Perdido,” written by Juan Tizol in 1941, both songs made popular by the great Duke Ellington.
To close the show, Novoa dazzled the audience with emotion and facial expression singing “On Broadway,” a classic New York-esque type of song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
The “Studio Jazz Singers and Combo Band” will do another performance featuring Latin style jazz with a different arrangement of singers on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from the afternoon to 1 p.m. at the Memorial Wall next to the Center of the Arts building.
They will also have a very special jazz performance featuring over 25 plus PCC singers and musicians on Thursday, Dec. 8 at Green Street Restaurant.