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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

SBCC Monday Madness virtual jazz concert hits high and low notes

The Channels Art Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW
August Lawrence
Photo illustration of a cozy at-home setup for watching the Monday Madness live Jazz show on April 18, 2021. With the YouTube live setup, the spectators could write real-time messages to the musicians as they played live.

The Monday Madness big band rocked the web with a free live virtual concert, showcasing their tight melodies over a variety of lively, slow and funky Jazz classics.

“This is SBCC’s Monday Madness jazz orchestra on a Sunday,” Bandleader Andrew Martinez said, joking that “Sunday Madness didn’t rhyme as well.”

Setting up a virtual show with real-time interactions for several people to play live music together is no small feat and Music Instructor James Mooy deserves praise for finding and setting up the software Jamulus that’s allowed City College bands to do just that.

The show was set up like a Zoom meeting, with each member performing in their own virtual window from their own homes.

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“Without further ado, we’re gonna go on ahead and start blasting,” Martinez said, jumpstarting the night into the first song.

Monday Madness kicked the show off with a slow, steamy jazz number which quickly built and exploded into a crescendo of back and forth call-and-answer musical conversations between leads.

Saxist Gustavo Lizarraga shone through as a star early on. His tasteful embellishments and timely notes showed his simple and tasteful musical feel – but electrified nonetheless.

The highlight of the night was the band’s performance of the jazz standard “Pen Pals.”

The extended group solo was punching and electrifying. The multitude of brass instruments blaring out the famous melodies made the recording reminiscent of being in a band hall or chorus chamber.

Members were visually enjoying themselves, bopping their heads or dancing to themselves and applauding each other or giving a thumbs-up after a good performance.

However, the real disappointment of the night was trombonist Mark Maynard.

Maynard was a featured soloist in every number. His high notes tended to sputter out and die, while his attempted lows would inevitably turn into something resembling a smoker’s cough.

But the band itself was fun to watch. Trumpeter James Sui even used a filter making it look like he was wearing virtual sunglasses, adding a fun and modern flair.

However, guitarist Bill Redman did seem bored throughout most of the show. During his musical breaks, he’d sometimes yawn, shrug and at one point looked like he was jolting himself to keep awake.

The music was impressive and each player by themselves are all capable and talented musicians. 

However, whenever players experienced faulty internet connections their sound would momentarily cut in and out, sporadically making the melodies and rhythms crunchy or uneven.

Although technical difficulties did make the night a little cringe-worthy at times, this virtual performance was electrifying, the joy is infectious and the show only proved that City College’s jazz big bands are just as committed and relevant as ever.

“Even though we’re already home,” Martinez said jokingly as he finished the show. “Let’s take us home.”

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