SBCC bands, Michael McDonald dazzle with an evening of music

August Lawrence, Staff Writer

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City College’s New World Jazz Ensemble and Lunch Break Big Band collaborated with rock legend Michael McDonald to deliver an evening of jazz, rock and soul 7 p.m. Saturday, Sep. 14 at the Lobero Theatre for a benefit concert to raise funds for City College’s music department.

This is the second year McDonald has played with City College student bands to raise money for the school.

While he is world-renowned for his work with The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and Aretha Franklin, McDonald is also known for his generosity and kindness. 

“It’s such a great school for music,” McDonald told the crowd during his set. “These events help supplement for classes that would otherwise be cut.”

The show was opened by New World, led by Tony Ybarra, who dedicated the set to jazz legend Miles Davis’s albums “Kind Of Blue,” and “Birth of the Cool.”

The band showcased its extraordinary musical ability with a setlist of experimental, reimagined Davis tunes.

From the very beginning, New World came off as something to contend with in terms of style, skill and sound.

After New World came Lunch Break, led by Jim Mooy, who really got the crowd moving.

Lunch Break astonished with its upbeat opener, a cover of “What is Hip,” by Tower of Power, featuring a funky keytar solo by student pianist Chris Story.

“Were not a traditional big band, the members are all high caliber musicians and I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Story.

After “What Is Hip,” the band launched into an unconventional Jaco Pastorius number “Liberty City,” which featured Julian Littlehale and a truly breathtaking improvised bass solo.

The final number for Lunch Break was the swing classic, “Big Time,” which featured an astounding performance by City College music department alumni Cambria Metzinger on lead vocals. 

Aside from raising funds for City College, the music department also announced the stepping down of its long-time chair John Clark.

After 13 years, Clark said he was content with the decision.

“I’m happy for the time I spent but it’s time for a change. I’m very lucky to be part of this,” Clark said.

Nathan Kreitzer has replaced Clark as the faculty chair.

McDonald took the stage as the final act with an ever-changing band of City College students, faculty and local Santa Barbara musical talent.

His first number was a soulful cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” singing opposite Metzinger in a duet, followed by a slow bluesy rendition “Dream On,” by Aerosmith featuring Ybarra on screaming lead guitar.

Next came slowed down, soulful versions on his past hit songs, such as “Just Strong Enough,” “On My Own,” and “I’m No Longer Bound,” which were all received with considerable enthusiasm from older members of the audience.

After the soul came the rock and McDonald delivered with loud, upbeat renditions of the songs “Love Me,” and “Do It Again,” by Steely Dan, with Ybarra returning on lead guitar for two more epic solos.  

McDonald closed the set with a beautifully haunting vocal and piano only rendition of his song “Peace,” leaving the audience with a night of music to be remembered. 

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