Jazz ensembles set the tone for last fall 2021 show at SOhO – The Channels
The channel art pages | CRITICAL REVIEW
From the Zoom screen to the SOhO stage, City College jazz ensembles rocked the Santa Barbara music scene on Monday, November 29.
It was the first in-person performance of the combo quartet since moving away due to the pandemic.
Each performance was fun and exciting, showcasing the talents of the students in entertaining, healthy and community-promoting tones. It was an opportunity for the musicians to finally present the riffs and chops they had perfected during the isolation of COVID-19.
The first act, a beginner band led by music teacher Ralph Lowi, was a pleasant introduction to what the evening had to offer. They mainly featured simple, slow and sultry black melodies with exotic rhythms and rhythms.
High note of the show was the second combo, conducted by piano teacher David Campos and starring students Tyler Bates on trumpet and Errol Sullivan on piano.
Although these two beginner techniques are straightforward, they both performed with such soul and enthusiasm on stage that their performances shone through.
However, the energy seemed to drop as frontman Campos sat down on a number, playing a beautifully executed intro solo of over 90 seconds. The rest of the group, while enthusiastic, seemed tense and more technically focused during the act.
The third group, led by Andrew Martinez, was probably the tightest and fairest.
Its main actors, Leo Rubio and Owen Richards on saxophone and Bob Hobber on electric guitar, dominated the crowd. Their piece easily drew thunderous applause at one point, then heartfelt silences the next.
The band’s rhythm section, however, was inconsistent and left some listeners uncomfortable and unhappy as the basis for the performance was uneven.
Drummer Ethan Fossum tended to speed up and slow down sporadically during particularly long solos or verses. Bassist Theo Brooke also experienced instrument-related malfunctions.
Fossum’s latest drum solo, which brought to mind rock drummers like John Bonham and Keith Moon, seemed out of place among the band’s other relaxed, jazzy tones.
The fourth combo, the “New World Jazz Ensemble” from City College, closed the show with an impressive performance.
The highlight of New World, and indeed the highlight of the whole night, was student Jay Real’s composition written during his forties.
The original piece began with a repetitive, modern, almost electric piano riff that slowly built up as the rest of the band joined in. Throughout, he explored several styles, incorporating big band swing with new-age jazz and soul influences. It was an innovative and modern take on what a big band could do, the sounds and styles they could produce.
The biggest disappointment, however, was their take on the Gershwin Broadway classic, “Summertime.”
Flautist Jane Hahn, who took the vocals from the song, looked tense and didn’t fit in well against the rest of the group. It was as if a classically trained opera singer was forcing herself to sing in an unnatural and unfamiliar blues tune.
At the end of the performance, everyone was cheerful with plenty of applause, as the City College jazz combos left the crowd on a natural level that only the magic of live music can conjure up.