City college bands light up the stage for jazz night at Soho

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Jazmyne Cushenberry

City College bands Lunch Break and Good Times Band performed their first concert of the semester on Jazz Night at the downtown restaurant and music club Soho. The concert took place at 8 p.m. Monday night, Feb 9.

MARISSA WHISMAN, Channels Staff

Three City College jazz bands lit up the stage Monday night as a collection of brilliant musicians showcased their talent at SoHo’s Jazz Night.

Every table was filled with dinner guests coming to enjoy the warm ambiance. The main floor was not the only packed part of the restaurant as the bands spilled over the stage with musicians and their array of instruments.

The first band to come on stage was “Good Times Big Band,” who was in charge of setting the mood for the remainder of the night, and did an excellent job of it. The ensemble was directed by Eric Heidner and was personally my favorite band of the night.

It is a fairly large band, containing seven different sax players, four trumpets, a grand pianist, two bass players, four trombones, a three-piece drum set and an electric guitarist.

The opening number was a loud and lively piece titled “Georgia on my Mind.” A strong sax solo started the number off as the horn section came in to keep the lively tone steady. The whole band joined in to pick up the pace and fill the entire restaurant with a fast moving melody.

Alto-saxophonist, Amanda Moran, led the band through the entire song with her multiple solos that gave life to an already vibrant number.

“Good Times Big Band” played two more numbers that kept the crowd awake and on their toes as the sax, trumpet, and trombone players mimicked each other’s tunes one after the other. The drummer, Vicente Zavala, smoothed out the song to create a perfect combination of sounds.

As the music boomed through the dining room, smiles filled the audience’s faces and I do not think I saw one person stop to eat their food. The band was vibrant and engaging as well as filled with talent.

The second ensemble to perform was a much smaller band, “The New World Jazz Ensemble,” conducted by City College faculty member Tony Ybarra. This band’s tone was a little calmer and mainly filled with improvisations and solos. The band played three sets, with pieces ranging from waltzes to duets.

My favorite set, “Gotta Match,” featured the whole band but highlighted solos from the grand piano and the low scale keyboard. While every musician had an amazing amount of talent, my favorite solo of the night came from grand pianist Ben Houston. His solo was so full of energy and at one point it looked as if he was about to fall off his seat. I love when musicians show passion while they play and he definitely put on a show for the audience.

The final band that played was the infamous City College band, “Lunchbreak Big Band.” This ensemble was definitely the biggest band and was directed by Jim Mooy, who continuously made the crowd laugh with his sarcastic comments while the band dealt with some minor technical difficulties.

Overall, the bands created an entertaining and vibrant Monday night for the guests who came to SoHo’s blissful atmosphere of candle lit tables and warm, colorful lights that hit the instruments with a glimmer.