Saddleback College Big Band brings sounds of Count Basie and Thad Jones to McKinney

Saddleback College Big Band performs in McKinney Theatre (Katrina Andaya / Lariat)

Katrina Andaya

The Saddleback College Big Band showcased their music Wednesday night, Oct. 3, in the McKinney Theatre.

The big band, made up of a few of Saddleback’s applied music students as well as musicians from around the community that come to practice and play jazz together, showcased pieces exploring the connections between the Count Basie and Thad Jones Orchestras.

“We get to experience a wide stylistic diversity in the amount of music in the great umbrella we call jazz,” Saddleback’s Director of Jazz Studies and composer Joey Sellers said.

The band kicked off the night with an upbeat piece “Shiny Stockings” by the musical director and saxophonist of the Count Basie orchestra, Frank Foster.

Following “Shiny Stockings” was the world premier of the composition, “The Diary of Curtis Applewhite,” by student Andrew Talley.

The composition started big and followed with softer tones as the trumpets, trombones, and saxophones took a backseat.  The piece also included bass, drums, piano, saxophone, and electric guitar solos implementing a soft jazz feel.

Spencer Wiles who plays both the alto and soprano saxophone and the clarinet also premiered his arrangement of the composition “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” by Billy Strayhorn in which he also performed a saxophone solo in.

“I choose tunes that I feel a connection with, that bring about a certain mood,” said Wiles on why he chose to arrange that particular song.

“Spencer’s song ‘A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing’ because it was so rich harmonically and melodically,” trombone player Ryan Dragon said on what his favorite composition was of the night.

The band also performed “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Cole Porter and “Some Other Time” by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by Sellers, that included vocalist Anastasya Korol.

“I liked when they brought the vocalist out,” said audience member Arriel Varela, 23, on what her favorite part of the show was. “I also liked the last song, it was upbeat and fun.”

The big band ended the night on a high note with the energetic piece “Groove Merchant” by Thad Jones.

“‘Groove Merchant’ because it’s the best feeling,” Saddleback College student, and trumpet player Anne Hauter, 20, music, who has been playing for the band for three semesters, said on what her favorite composition of the night was.  “It’s all about the soul and just the rawness of it I like.”

The Saddleback College Big Band will perform again for their holiday concert on Wednesday, December 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the McKinney Theatre.

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