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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Jazz concert offers combination of delight and disappointment

The Channels Art Pages | STAFF REVIEW
Ryan Cullom
The Anna Casper Quartet played one song during their set on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, performing at the Fall Chamber Jazz Concert in the City College Fé Bland Forum. Vocalist Anna Casper sings “Desafinado” while Sebastian Martinez accompanies her on the bass.

The Chamber Jazz concert offered both delightful shivers and sleep-inducing lapses that made you wish you stayed at home.

There is no doubt that all of the artists are talented but not all of them succeeded in captivating the audience’s attention and admiration.

The concert was presented by City College’s music department at the Fé Bland Forum on Saturday, Nov. 1. It was an evening of small ensemble jazz music that featured “The New World Jazz Ensemble,” “The Eclectic Jazz orchestra,” “Interplay Jazz Combo” and “SBCC Jazz Choir”.

One of the concert’s highlights was the opening number performed by The Electic Jazz Orchestra directed by Dr. Chuck Wood. They impressed the audience not only with their instrumental synchronization but also with their six talented student vocalists that consisted of three young men, Ariel Kaye, Satchawat Duangnuang and Duan Jeon and three young women, Anna Kasper, Amanda Zavala and Michelle Neilson.

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Although the guys weren’t as vocally strong as the girls, the synchronization was flawless, making it sound as if one male and female voice joined together. If I closed my eyes it sounded as if Danny Kaye and Ella Fitzgerald were singing together. It was the night’s first thrilling shiver.

Sadly amongst the orchestra and ensembles that left me unsatisfied was City College’s jazz choir, “SBCC Jazz Choir”. They opened up with a cappella version of The Flintstone’s theme song. I expected a contemporary and edgy spin on the song, a really jazzy version of everybody’s favorite ya-ba-da-ba-do family, but instead I got a mind-numbing version. It was simply a choir singing the iconic song, synchronized and in tune, just what you would expect from a middle school choir not from a City College level choir.

The second captivating moment of the night was when the Anna Kasper Quartet performed “Desafinado” by A. Jobim. Kasper was the standout vocalist; she had a voice sweet as honey, making me grin like a lovesick fool. She sang with such belief that she could trick people into thinking she wrote the lyrics. She reminded me of a young Anita O’day with the west coast cool school of jazz.

Another golden talent was Ben Huston who impressed the audience with his piano skills, playing funky jazz tunes with The New World Jazz ensemble. He and his fellow ensemble member Sebastian Martinez, on bass, gave the audience a rather dozing treat. Houston and Martinez played a chill jazz piece that you would rather hear playing as a background in some old shack bar full of cigarette smoke, rather than seeing them live.

The third standout moment and biggest delight of the night was when The New World Jazz ensemble performed under the direction of energetic, Tony Ybarra. It was a perfect ending for a not so perfect concert.

The ensemble was not only gifted as expected but they had that magical quality that I believe some people are just born with. The New world jazz Ensemble was seen tapping their feet to the rhythm, smiling and playing effortlessly jazzy tunes that made you think you were back in 1920s in New Orleans. This ensemble had edge and energy that after the dozing number from Ben Huston Duo, the audience was brought back to life again.

Ironically, Huston is also the ensemble pianist, but now instead of giving the audience background music we rather hear and not see, Huston demanded the audience’s attention with his fast and up-tempo solos in “Joy Spring” by Clifford Brown.

The rhythm of the night’s final song “Catch me if you can” played by The New World Jazz Ensemble, which was continuously steady, seemed to get faster like a heartbeat by the climax of the song. It was also at this point that the dynamics of the song were increasingly getting louder capturing the audience’s attention to the fullest, until all instruments met at the top with a bang.

That was just how the nigh ended, with a bang. They were rewarded with the night’s only and well-deserved standing ovation.

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