One minute before show time and the worship hall was quiet. As the clock ticked 7 p.m., the room lit up with life as the jazz ensemble started its spring concert.
April 8 was an eventful night as the California Baptist University jazz ensemble and jazz combo performed the final concert of the year at Magnolia Church.
The seats were filled with students’ family, friends and fellow music enthusiasts. The band had a unique repertoire that the audience took to as they swayed their bodies and grooved to the music.
The songs that were performed included “144” (2011), “Bada Bamba” (2014), “Jigsaw” (2017), “Some Skunk Funk” (2005) and “Claxography” (1994), which was composed by Dan St. Marseille for his friend William Claxton. The ensemble was also joined by renowned jazz musician, Marshall Hawkins.
Marseille, CBU associate director of bands, said getting ready for a concert was easy thanks to the talented members and that seeing them play live is a remarkable experience.
“Realistically it only takes a few weeks to get a concert together. We play a variety of repertoire of different jazz eras from the 1930s to modern pieces,” Marseille said. “There is nothing more exciting than hearing a live jazz band. When you are in the environment of hearing it live the color of sound you hear, the way trumpets sound live, the way a guitar sounds, it is much different than when you hear it in a recording.”
Marseille is also the conductor of the jazz ensemble, which consists of 18 members with a variety of instruments including saxophones, trumpets, trombones, piano, bass drums and guitar. The jazz combo is a smaller group consisting only of eight members.
Melody Leon, senior music education major who plays alto saxophone in the ensemble, said her musical skills have improved since becoming a member of the ensemble and she was excited to show her new skills during the concert.
“In the past year, I have grown so much as a musician, whether that would be my tone, improvisational skills, phrasing or jazz articulation – every aspect of who I am as a musician has improved. I have the Lord and Professor St. Marseille to thank for that,” Leon said.
“For this concert, I was particularly excited for a chart called Nardis. It was my first time improvising a solo on stage with a concept in mind called ‘free jazz.’ It was really tough to pick a favorite song because everything in our repertoire is so diverse and spectacular.”
Toward the end of the concert, special guest Marshall Hawkins came out with his bass to perform with the students. By the end of the concert the audience was on its feet, clapping to the music and bopping their heads.
Ashley Gutierrez, junior sociology major, said attending the concert made her experience and appreciate jazz.
“What stuck out to me was that the guest, Marshall Hawkins, was unique with his bass playing. It was a fun experience that makes me want to listen to jazz music more and students should come not only because it is free admission and it’s music that everyone can appreciate, even non-music majors,” Gutierrez said.
The concert showcased the talents of each member in the ensemble and how he or she collectively worked together. With every song the audience came alive and, by the end of the concert, got a good taste of how unique jazz is and hopefully left as a new lover of jazz.