Review: Solo artists shine during Concert Jazz Band’s resounding performances

David+Moyer%2C+Director+of+Jazz+Studies+at+El+Camino+College+introduces+the+band+and+provides+a+brief+explanation+of+the+songs+the+audience+will+listen+to+during+the+concert+in+Marsee+Auditorium+on+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+20.+Photo+credit%3A+Jose+Tobar
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Review: Solo artists shine during Concert Jazz Band’s resounding performances

David Moyer, Director of Jazz Studies at El Camino College introduces the band and provides a brief explanation of the songs the audience will listen to during the concert in Marsee Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Photo credit: Jose Tobar

David Moyer, Director of Jazz Studies at El Camino College introduces the band and provides a brief explanation of the songs the audience will listen to during the concert in Marsee Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Photo credit: Jose Tobar

David Moyer, Director of Jazz Studies at El Camino College introduces the band and provides a brief explanation of the songs the audience will listen to during the concert in Marsee Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Photo credit: Jose Tobar

David Moyer, Director of Jazz Studies at El Camino College introduces the band and provides a brief explanation of the songs the audience will listen to during the concert in Marsee Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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The El Camino College Concert Jazz Band played a luminous set of classic jazz standards to a scarcely populated audience in Marsee Auditorium that nevertheless caused their ears to perk up on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Songs from jazz giants including Thelonious Monk, Horrace Silverman, Quincy Jones and local legend Gerald Wilson were brought to life by the 16-piece combo with highlight performances by featured soloists who put their chops to the test.

On “Bedouin,” an original composed and arranged by Duke Pearson, played during the second set, Director of Jazz Studies at ECC David Moyer led the band as they took off in lyrical flight on the flute while the band maintained the steady arabesque feel of the song.

Meanwhile 22-year-old, music major and pianist, Daunier Thompson, created cascades through his use of the 5th in the pentatonic scale in the key of A, freeing himself from what can sometimes become an anchoring tonic.

“I really enjoyed the solos, they really heightened the chords in the music,” Ernesto Sierra, a 20-year-old music major at ECC, said during the concert’s intermission. “The music coming out the piano felt very fluent. I felt it added a nice mixture of musical color. It was good fun.”

A fresh component of the line up in the band included two female musicians. Eliana Pomfret in the trumpet section and in the rhythm section, guitarist Christi Lao, both of whom held their own throughout the performance.

Lao said she was inspired to pick up the guitar after listening to her father play at home.

When she is not playing with the concert band, she said she can be found performing as a member of an all female gypsy jazz band called “She Sings, She Swings” focusing on the music of the eclectic genius guitar player, Django Reinhardt.

“I like playing guitar, “ Lao said standing outside the Marsee after the show had ended. “But I noticed that there weren’t many women doing it, so I wanted to change people’s perspective on that while working on becoming a better jazz player.”

Opening up with a solo on a Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan,” released in 1967 via Duke Ellington’s album “The Far East Suite,’ ECC’s Ben Tyrrell on alto sax, took the audience on a stroll through the walking ballad that immediately set a tonal scene of mellow drama with clean crisp notes.

Some of the more enthusiastic members of the audience who could be heard applauding the bands performances while shouting approving hoots, including 24-year-old ECC music major, Eric Hernandez who made it to the concert during the concert’s second session but immediately recognized the efficiency in Tyrrell’s rendition of “Isfahan.”

“I really liked the piece Ben was featured in,” Hernandez said. “He had a really nice buttery tone with good clean notes.”

All in all, the ECC Concert Jazz Band had a number of wonderful solo performances by musicians like Dorian Astorga, Tyler Johnson, Brendan Boyle, Corey Hogan in the woodwind section.

The trombone section likewise shined. And for the trumpet section, hollers, like, “Yeah, guy on the trumpet!” And, “Slap wid da bass!” resounded with applauses from the audience, while the rhythm section on drums held it all together tightly.

Former ECC alumni, Jim Olds, who graduated in 1980 while majoring in accounting, was in the audience that night.

He recalled a time when acts like country music legend, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and comedy acts such as Bob Hope once filled the seats at Marsee. But he still had fun listening to the performances that night, he said.

“It’s a pretty neat thing,” Olds said. “I would encourage [people] to come out. The Marsee is a great venue with great programs. The community is really missing out on a real gem.”

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