Jazz concert keeps genre alive

Two jazz ensembles perform original compositions

Angela Salinas / The Collegian

It takes a different kind of person to appreciate jazz.

In a world dominated by technology-enhanced music resulting in the likes of Ke$ha and Far East Movement, listening to music that isn’t essentially catchy isn’t interesting to many avid music listeners.

Watching it being played, however, is a completely different experience.

The Fresno State Jazz Orchestra and the Fresno City College Jazz Composers Orchestra took jazz music to a new level in the ten pieces they performed in Monday night’s concert.

The Fresno State Jazz Orchestra performed three songs during the first part of the program. Their first piece, “Jumpy Blues,” was appropriately titled, as the song itself was a fun, fast-paced tune with an energetic flair and had more than one audience member tapping their foot.

“Warm Valley,” the orchestra’s second piece, started out with a mellow, slow sound before picking up the tempo. Their last piece, “Madcap,” was also an energetic, enthusiastic composition at its’ core. The end of the song, though sudden, adds to the songs’ intensity.

The last seven songs were performed by the Fresno City College Jazz Composers Orchestra, which consisted of Fresno State and Fresno City music faculty members, alumni of the music program at both schools and one Fresno State student. The most notable composition the ensemble performed was “The Lower Kings River,” an original piece by local composer Kevin Shigeo Yokota. The song seems to follow the flow of the Kings River, and starts in a slow rhythm before quickly picking up the beat. The tempo rises and falls as the song embodies certain stretches of the river.

Another prominent piece is “A Day in Night Town.” The song has a wonderful sense of place and gives the audience the feeling of walking through town while experiencing the sounds of a time gone by. The sound of the band’s trumpets in this composition lends itself to the depiction of traffic in an old Jazz Era town.

One of the most memorable pieces of the concert was a composition that jazz trumpet professor Joe Lewis wrote for his wife and daughter, aptly titled “Emily and Jennifer.” The song is fairly mellow, and increases in tempo in some parts. The piece evokes a very sweet, calming sense fitting of Lewis’ wife and daughter, who slept through her father’s performance.

Each piece the Fresno State Jazz Orchestra and the Fresno City College Jazz Composers Orchestra played were well performed, and those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Although jazz isn’t a popular form of music in today’s pop-saturated music scene, attending any jazz concert at Fresno State is an experience that is sure to be enjoyable.

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