Big Band Blowout! catalogues vast history of jazz at Garvin

The Channels Art Pages | STAFF REVIEW

JAMES LIVINGSTON, Channels Staff

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Roaring saxophone solos and potent basslines rocked a crowded Garvin Theatre last night as the City College music department’s annual “Big Band Blowout!” took center stage.

Jazz enthusiasts and supporters of live music alike flocked to City College’s West Campus to hear The Good Times big band, directed by music professor Eric Heidner, Lunch Break big band, directed by associate music professor James Mooy, and Monday Madness big band directed by music instructor Isaac “Ike” Jenkins.

From the rapid trumpet solos inspired by Dizzy Gillespie to the darker, experimental piano rhythms of Thelonious Monk, “Big Band Blowout!” brought a variety of musical pieces to the college that catalogued the vast history of big band jazz. Each director conducted a series of songs that ventured through every era of the genre.

Heidner described his band’s third number, a song written in 1928 by composer Walter Donaldson titled “Makin’ Whoopee” as “laid back, but a little bit dirty.”

But make no mistake about the tone of the evening. Unlike the subtle ambience of a smooth or cool jazz show, a big band jazz performance is a high-volume affair. The bands were all led by a powerful brass section and punctuated by a thundering rhythm section of bass, drums, guitar and piano.

Each of the three bands were comprised of a blend of students, faculty and longtime jazz performers. The Good Times featured most of the young artists between the three, while Monday Madness brought older, more experienced players to the stage along with them.

“I brag about this school not only for its beauty, but because I think we have one of the finest, most skillful, best educated faculty in music,” Jenkins said.

Some artists even performed in multiple bands throughout the evening, including saxophonist Andrew Barone and trumpeters Max Maynard and James Watson. Heidner even transitioned to trombone for the Monday Madness performance at the end of the night.

As some of the older students are near the conclusion of their final semester within the music department and at City College, “Big Band Blowout!” allowed them the perfect opportunity to showcase their talents one last time.

While members come and go, the heart of the department remains entrenched within their powerful performances throughout the year. Energetic, silly, and at times moving, “Big Band Blowout!” has successfully delivered a memorable show for everybody involved.

This event was the final big band performance of the Spring 2017 semester. However, the SBCC Music Concert Series continues to run through the end of May for those who are captivated by live music and would like to support the department.

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