Music instructor brings jazz to SRJC

Parris Mazer, Staff Writer

With stunning virtuosity Bennett Friedman and his quartet put on a concert Nov. 4 in Newman Auditorium that appealed to jazz fans and laymans alike. The quartet played an eclectic mix of ‘40s jazz pieces by the likes of Woody Herman and Charlie Parker, jazz renditions of ballads and new versions of jazz standards like “Summertime.”
Friedman, a saxophonist and music teacher at SRJC, was joined by fellow SRJC instructor Andrew Elmer on bass, Randy Vincent of Sonoma State University on guitar, and Lorca Hart on drums.
The nature of jazz is one of improvisation and interaction between the musicians. Each song has a “head,” or melody, which is unchanged and embodies the character of the song. From there, each musician is free to improvise the chord changes that the melody allows.
Every song allows each musician to perform a solo. In the words of one concertgoer “everybody is a soloist.” However, along with a soloing ability, each musician complements and plays off of each other. This was especially visible watching Emer take his walking bassline solos. The drummer, Hart, would chime in with almost precognicent timing to accent Emer’s solos, and not one beat was ever missed.
What’s amazing about the show was the quartet only managed to rehearse once last week. Prior to that they played once two or three years ago in Healdsburg. Yet, it seemed as if they had been playing together forever. It really speaks to the universality of music and the common understanding it brings to otherwise disparate personalities.
Ben Prentice attended the concert and loved how the interactions between the musicians were organic and spontaneous. Prentice described the process the musicians took listening and playing off each other like democracy in action, where everyone gets their say.
At the end of the show, one elderly gentleman remarked that it is truly a joy that we have such amazing musicians right here in our backyard.