On a warm Sunday afternoon, March 10th to be exact, Long Beach State University was bustling with campus activity. While everyone was at the annual Pop Wow located on upper campus, I was headed towards the University Theatre to watch Club’s Studio Jazz Band perform. After purchasing my ticket, I entered the large, dark venue and sat directly in front of the band which filled the entire stage. Before the show was about to start, I was able to observe the audience and record the demographics.
Many of the people that attended were students and friends of the band members, and even some of their parental units came to support as well. Although the house wasn’t entirely packed (could be because the show was at 2:00 in the afternoon), everyone seemed excited and there were definitely good vibes in the air. The band was spectacular, but out of the many amazing compositions that were performed, I chose two to review. The first composition was a modern, samba-like piece called “Sedentary Motion” composed by Tom Gargling.
A typical Jazz set up was used, which included the rhythm section (piano, electric guitar, standup bass, and drum set), and featured instruments like the trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. The performance structure was analogous to a head-solo-head structure with a tenor saxophone solo first, and a trumpet solo after. Both soloists displayed impeccable improvisational skills while keeping a smooth, sexy feel to their tone, and all the while were able to push the piece in a forward momentum.
The overall performance was very syncopated; the beat was always emphasized, and the samba-like qualities of the piece made me want to dance. A noteworthy aspect of the performance was the drumming. To add to the feel and push of the piece, the drums were played very lightly rather than hard and emphasized. The second composition was a classic swing piece called “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, originally titled “Never No Lament” penned and recorded in the sass by Duke Longtime. The same Jazz set up was used for this performance, but instead, the soloist (a trombone player) was brought to the front.
The structure of the performance was much like a call and response where the featured trombonist was “the call” whilst the band was “the response”. I particularly enjoyed the soloist’s deep and rich sound when he played the featured parts, and much appreciated his clear range of high and low notes when he played his improvisational parts. The piece over all started with a big and bold beginning which transitioned into a swing, and for the most part, the band stayed on top of the beat and played the song in an upbeat tempo.
A noteworthy aspect of the performance was that this piece was the only piece that was a classic. All other pieces performed were considered “modern Jazz” pieces. In short, I personally enjoyed the entire performance and could tell that the audience had a good time as well. One of my favorite instances of the concert was after intermission when 3 members of the premiere Jazz combo, the Conservatory Jazz Combo, Joined the band and played a little piece called “GroW’ by Philip Dick. These 3 musicians were Just so great to listen to and I felt very entertained.
However, expressive (they were positioned in front of the band) than those that had their eyes glued to their music sheets. This goes back to the topic of Jazz then and now, how back then, everything was learned by ear, played mainly without written scores, and performed expressively versus the present, where everything is quite the opposite. Of course this doesn’t go for all Jazz performers, but it is a simple observation which can easily be seen in academia. That is why it is important to learn about the history of Jazz and to know that it wasn’t always what it is now.