SRJC Jazz Delights

Rebecca Dominguez, Staff Writer

Jazz conjures up images of a smokey club where people dance as a lone man plays a saxophone. These images often cause people to think of jazz as outdated and on the periphery of mainstream music, but the Santa Rosa Junior College Jazz Combos concert showed the beauty and skill it takes to play jazz music.

Three jazz combos, the red, yellow and blue combos, directed by Bennett Friedman, performed May 6 in Newman Auditorium.

The red combo started off the night. Musicians were dressed casually, as if they had just walked off the street, but their casual attire was forgotten when they started playing. The red combo played five jazz pieces including “Sister Sadie,” by Horace Silver. They also played “All Blues,” by Miles Davis, in which they featured guest artist Mads Tolling on violin.

They ended their set with “Says,” by Al Jarreau and Philippe Saisse, with the arrangement by Bennett Friedman. Mads Tolling was again featured on this piece and was phenomenal. Director Friedman waved his hands and the red combo finished with precision.

Performing second, the yellow combo began with “Daahoud,” by Clifford Brown. The inclusion of a more modern instrument, the electric bass, made their performance slightly different than the original.

The yellow combo then played “A Sassy Samba” by Jimmy Heath and featured Mads Tolling. This piece was bold and resonant. It showcased the importance of the pianist and drummer, the foundation all other musicians build on.

“High Rise,” by Don Braden and Karl Latham, was the last song the yellow combo played. The bassist added a funkiness to this piece that wasn’t in the others.

Last was the blue combo, which played three songs. Musicians began with “Jitterbug Waltz,” by Fats Waller, arranged by Bennett Friedman. The piece was spunky and had a different sound than the other two combos with the addition of the vibraphone (vibes). Mads Tolling was once again featured on this piece and kept the audience interested as he played his violin without the bow.

The blue combo then played “S.O.S.” by Wes Montgomery. This composition was fast in tempo. The pianist’s fingers flew across the keys and the vibes player’s sticks moved so quickly they seemed to blur.

“S.O.S.” was the only song of the night to not end on an abrupt note but instead gently trickled out note by note.

The show ended with “Nite Sprite” by Chick Corea, which was lively and intense. The song was like a slow build up to dramatic artist solos. The drama of the piece kept building and building until it slammed to an end and the vibes player dramatically threw his sticks to the ground.