Big Band shares a jazzy mix of tunes at Saddleback College

The Saddleback College Big Band performed an arrangement of classic and contemporary jazz at the McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College on Friday Oct. 16.

Conducted by Director of Jazz Studies, Joey Sellers, the band played a two-act concert that featured two world premiers, a student arrangement and a song written by Sellers.

The Big Band consists of 19 members, featuring local members of the community including trumpet player Dr. David House, Saddleback alumni, students like first-year applied music program student and Big Band guitarist Rymmy Andre.

“This is my first year in the Big Band,” Andre said. “Started in the lab bands and combos the year before. I want to transfer to Cal State Long Beach or Northridge for jazz studies.”

Separated into two acts, the Big Band opened the night with “Down the Field,” a song written by Bill Holman. After the opening composition concluded, Sellers welcomed the audience, introduced the band and briefly spoke about the next song,“Minority.”

Altoist, Gigi Gryce wrote and performed “Minority” in the 1960s with his quintet and last night, 18-year-old student Nick VanAmburg composed the arrangement of “Minority” that the Big Band performed. A world premier of former Saddleback Student and Cal State Univeristy of Northridge graduate Craig Cammell then followed the VanAmburg’s arrangement.

Cammell studied with the Jazz program at Saddleback College and said that the relationship with Sellers was so comfortable, he was able to hear his work with a big band before Cammell plans on starting his own ensemble in Los Angeles. He was asked to come on stage by Sellers to conduct his song, “Inwood.”

“The interesting thing about being with Joey Sellers is it was never a leaving and getting back type thing, I’ve always stayed in contact with Joey,” Cammell said. “I like to hear my stuff played by a real band. So this is a great resource since I am on such good terms with Joey, I can bring my tunes in and hear them played with his band.”

The third and forth songs of the first act featured vocalist Elysia Brewer as the band performed Luiz Bonfa Matt Dubey’s “Gentle Rain” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Pheonix.” Webb wrote the latter, but Sellers arranged the composed the version that was played on Friday.

The last song of the final act was Miles Davis’ “Seven Steps to Heaven” arranged by Karl Soukup. The dynamic song featured driving melodies and an elongated drum solo as Sellers informed the crowd that the second set was more energetic.

The second set opened with “Stella By Starlight”, written by Victor Young, Edward Heyman and arranged by Alan Baylock. Following that, Sellers asked Cammell to return to the stage and conduct the world premier of his song, “Special K.”

Sellers then took the time to inform the audience of the influence a specific musician brought to contemporary jazz with the next two songs that were written by saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Coleman provided American music with the influential jazz album, “The Shape of Jazz to Come” in 1959 and recently passed away in June.

The first Coleman song to be performed by the Big Band was “Una Muy Bonita” and was arranged by Sellers. The next song, “Lonely Woman,” featured vocals as Brewer accompanied the band for both Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” and the next song “Like Someone in Love” written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke with this particular arrangement by Dave Hanson.

The Big Band would play Frank Rosolino’s “Blue Daniel” before ending the show with a song Sellers had written for Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show band. It was after Sellers had moved to California from Arizona that he wrote the song for Johnny Carson’s talk show and last night the band performed it.

The song was “Screaming, Seeding Scholars.” Sellers then thanked the audience for supporting local music and the musicians arose to bow from their chairs. Audience member, retired public servant and current Saddleback College student Robert Cavazos had attended the Big Band Jazz concerts a few times and was moved by last night’s performance.

“I’m so moved by Joey Sellers and I think Saddleback should be grateful with the music program they have,” said Cavazos. “Sellers holds musicians to a high standard,will recognize that and continue to inspire.”

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