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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

Yearly SBCC Big Band Blowout blows audiences away as it celebrates jazz

The Channels Arts Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW
Kayne Hunter strums his guitar strings during the Lunch Break band performance at City College’s Jazz Ensemble Concert on Nov. 20 at the Garvin Theatre in Santa Barbara Calif. The Lunch Break band, directed by Andrew Martinez, has been selected as a finalist for the Monterey Next Gen Jazz Festival for the past three years.

The beautiful sounds of City College’s big bands echoed through the Garvin Theatre and over West Campus’ foggy hills on Monday night.

The annual Big Band Blowout was an incredible show featuring three jazz bands.

The show was kicked off by the Good Times Big Band, followed by the Lunch Break and Monday Madness bands.

Good Times, directed by Eric Heidner and featuring many talented musicians, started the show with an upbeat and happy tune in Shorty Rogers’ “Grand Slam.” This song foreshadowed the night of joy and excitement in store for the audience.

Their next piece, and my personal favorite performance from the band was named “Chelsea Bridge,” a ballad written by Billy Strayhorn and arranged by Mark Taylor.

The piece started out calm and solemn, and built up to an upbeat waltz featuring lead alto player, Julio Longcob. With John Douglas’ piano as a backdrop, Longcob captivated the audience with his solo.

Director Heidner kept the performance lighthearted and fun, cracking jokes in between pieces.

After their final piece, “April in Paris,” featuring solos from Conrad Stinson on trumpet and John Douglas on tenor saxophone, cheers and claps echoed behind Heidner and the band as they were sent offstage.

In a manner befitting their name, the Lunch Break big band took to the stage for the middle portion of the show.

Director Andrew Martinez introduced each of the musicians and their first song.

Lunch Break began with a fast paced piece by Alan Baylock named “Intensities In Ten Cities.”

Pianist Leana Movillion and saxophonist Simon Blondell stood out with beautifully complex solos, earning applause from the crowd.

Lunch Break’s third piece was a romantic ballad by the name of “Love Matters The Most.”

In this piece, Blondell returned for yet another solo accompanied by Movillion and Julius Sherman playing bass.

The band concluded their performance with a bang with what Martinez called, “a classic with a new twist.”

“Take The A Train” by Billy Strayhorn was performed with solos from saxophonist Rob Cortez and trumpet players Jay Real and James Watson.

The soloists won over the audience, who showed their appreciation with hoots and hollers as they exited the stage.

The lights lining the ceiling of the Garvin Theatre switched on as Martinez announced an intermission. Band members who’d already performed filed out to greet their families and fans. Attendees marched up the stairs, racing to the line for snacks and refreshments.

Once the audience made their way back to their seats, the lights faded out, marking the beginning of the final performance.

Andrew Martinez and the Monday Madness big band took the stage. Before Martinez could get a word out, the band let out a beautiful harmony that everyone in the building knew by heart, “Happy Birthday.”

The performance was on Andrew Martinez’s birthday and the band showed their appreciation for him with a serenade. Martinez continued directing the band even through his own birthday song, waving his hands along with them.

After the touching gesture, Monday Madness began their show. They started out with a song featuring Martinez himself, “Ojos de Rojo.”

Martinez played saxophone beautifully with the rest of the band backing him up. After a brilliant solo, Martinez went back to directing the band, introducing their second song, titled “Oops.”

From this point on, tenor saxophonist Justin Claveria stole the show. He and Watson captured the hearts of the audience with their trumpet-saxophone tag team.

Claveria showed off his incredible talent and confidence later in the show with an electric solo in the song “Jazz Crimes” by Joshua Redman.

In the final act of the night, Martinez introduced the last song as a “battle between master and apprentice.”

Claveria, and his former student Blondell were pitted against each other in “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.”

It truly felt like a battle between the two players. One would belt out a beautiful combination of notes and the other would fire back.

It’s hard to say who won the battle; both musicians were mesmerizing. In the end however, I’d give Claveria the edge.

As the night came to an end, Martinez bid the audience farewell, and the band was sent off with roars of applause. City College’s big bands put on a great show. As someone who has never been interested in jazz, I was surprised to find myself wishing the night went on longer.

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