June 23, 2024

The California Baptist University Jazz Ensemble put a show on at Northpoint Church in Corona on Oct. 5, displaying the talent and hard work of the students as well as sharing a range of jazz pieces from various artists.

Dan St. Marseille, jazz ensemble and music director, shared his thoughts and hopes for the program as well as the successes of the night.

“I think the highlight was the breadth and variety that the band played,” St. Marseille said. “We played music from the early period of jazz through modern. That piece ‘Arctic Blues’ takes the type of skill to play that you would find in a symphony orchestra or a really fine wind ensemble but also with the jazz sensibilities.”

During the performance, the ensemble played multiple instruments, including saxophone, trombone, trumpet, vibraphone, piano, guitar, bass and drum sets. Each performance featured a different student solo.

Josselyn Guillen The jazz ensemble, founded by Dr. Guy Holliday, celebrates the roots of a uniquely American genre of music.

“We have some very fine soloists and they really stood out and played very well and really connected with the audience,” St. Marseille said.

With jazz music, it is common to have an individual member of the band do a solo mid-performance or duplicate that solo with someone else within the band as well. This practice is tradition and was originally done as a way to showcase one’s own style and take on the piece.

“The emphasis on having not only larger ensembles but small group experience (was great). (It) was actually the first concert where it was called the Jazz Ensemble Concert, but we had a breakout where a smaller group played, and that’s actually a tradition that goes back to the swing era in the 1930s.”

Some of the pieces played included “Bada Bamba” by Chris Walden, “Gently” by Bob Mintzer, and “The Spirit is Willing” by Sammy Nestico.

St. Marseille also recognized Dr. Guy Holliday, director of bands and assistant professor of music, during the performance, sharing how the Jazz Ensemble grew into the program it is now.

“(Holliday) was the founder of the Jazz Ensemble, which was a part of the music department 20 years ago,” St. Marseille said. “It was under his direction. He was the director of the bands and continues to be so. When they brought me in, I took over the leadership of it.”

St. Marseille also hopes that this performance helped people appreciate jazz.

“From a historical standpoint, I would say a lot of people don’t realize jazz music is America’s indigenous art form and the world community considers jazz to be America’s unique creative art form — the only contribution the U.S. has made in that area,” St. Marseille said. “The reason I say that is jazz music on its own is so unique that the world considers it our indigenous art form.”

Students were deeply impressed with the performance. Rachel Lunney, junior early childhood studies major, attended the concert. She especially enjoyed the solo performances.

“The way the professor was so supportive of the students and how proud he was of their accomplishments (stood out to me),” Lunney said.

She also enjoyed the change of pace from other concerts.

“A lot of the times when you go to bigger concerts, you don’t really see individuals do (solos) in performances too often,” Lunney said. “I like how they featured a different person from each section (of the band).”

Abigail Byde, junior early childhood studies major, attended the concert as well. She especially loved seeing the passion of the students as they played “Arctic Blues.”

“I really loved hearing the trumpets,” Byde said. “I liked that they had them do a solo, too.”

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