Saddleback Jazz faculty kick it up a notch

HORNS (Claire Cote/Lariat 2009)

Claire Cote
HORNS: Joey Sellers (right) and the other musicians turn up the beat. (Claire Cote/Lariat 2009)

HORNS: Joey Sellers (right) and the other musicians turn up the beat. (Claire Cote/Lariat 2009)

During the annual Jazz faculty concert last Monday, Director of Jazz Studies Joey Sellers wielded his slide trombone with ease, as did his six onstage companions with their respective instruments, for a night of real jazz grooving in the McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College.

“We are particularly happy to share this beautiful music with you,” said Sellers, welcoming the jazz fans.

The program started slow, but the septet was clearly just warming up as they slipped into crisp harmonies and spontaneous solos. The group featured Jerry Pinter on tenor saxophone, Ron Stout on the trumpet, Joey Sellers on trombone, Jamie Rosenn on guitar, Gerard Hagen on piano, Kendal Kay on drums, and Luther Hughes on the double bass fiddle.

Saddleback student Diarmid Flatley wrote the second number on the program.

“He arranged this over the weekend for us,” said Sellers. “We’re not horsing around.”

In true jazz fashion the concert continued, each arrangement containing a solo for each group member, creating a sort of concert-within-a-concert, with applause from the audience at intervals between performers.

As the music progressed, the McKinney stage began to feel more like a smoky jazz club than a school theater filled with students. Jerry Pinter’s solo sax rendition of a Coltrane song typified the mood with its mournful yet seductive overture in 1930s film noir style.

The group split up for a couple of tunes, breaking first into the rhythm section, featuring Hagen, Kay, Rosenn and Hughes. This quartet kept it lively and really broke down the jazz beats. The horns, Sellers, Pinter and Stout, then played a trio number that sounded a little like an orchestral tuning session. But Sellers assured the audience that that’s just jazz.

“That’s what happens sometimes, but not other times,” Sellers said. “We believe in a wide array of music.”

The faculty finished off the program with a snappy piece arranged by Hagen called “Voyage.” With its quick rhythms and toe-tapping beats, they clearly saved the best for last.

“We have a blast playing,” Sellers said.

And the group obviously does have a passion for jazz. They almost seem to breath the stuff. This is much more than just a few teachers playing music; this is spontaneous jazz at its finest.

Hagen, Hughes, Kay, Pinter and Stout (Claire Cote)

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