Audience members cheered for an encore from the “Combo 1” band at the Jazz Combos performance in the Fullerton College Campus Theatre last night.
Three bands, “Combo Tres,” directed by Mike Scott, “Midnight Combo,” directed by Joe Jewell and “Combo 1,” directed by Bruce Babad all performed .
Combo Tres started strong with a chart titled, “Cantaloupe Island,” by Herbie Hancock, leaving the audience nodding throughout the mellow and smooth numbers.
“Caravan,” by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol was next on the list. The guitarist, Madison Holland, showed off her skills as played a melodious solo that led to the guitar becoming a centerpiece for the whole song.
“The bass and piano part is really fancy and tempo the is good, I like more complicated songs and I [also] have a solo too,” Sangwoo Kim, drummer for Combo Tres, explained about his favorite song, “Caravan.”
After Combo Tres’ set, Jewell’s group, Midnight Combo was up next.
Midnight Combo showed a lot of emotion and even body movement on a chart titled, “Masaman,” by Geoff Keezer. It started with a very technical drum introduction that led into a guitar solo which gave a rich and warm groove. Brendan Downs, the trombonist, was really feeling the music as he was dancing throughout his solo, putting a lot of soul behind what he was playing.
Their final chart, “The Human Impersonator,” by Donald Brown was a complete contrast from the performances before it as it highlighted the unconventional sub-genre, free jazz.
Jewell gave a disclaimer for the audience advising the crowd to, “strap ourselves in and we’ll see what happens.”
The song began with a clash of notes between all of the sections that went into a dark and experimental piano feature and continued with its progressive nature as members of the band playing whatever they wanted.
“To me, playing without any tempo or chords was very challenging for me… I’ve never studied or listened to free jazz and suddenly I had to do something… so new to me,” Doeun Seo, drummer for the Midnight Combo band, commented on the difficulties of free jazz.
Jewell explained that free jazz is like a conversation between a lot of other people where the listeners are on the outside just listening and observing the interactions of the crowd.
Bruce Babad’s Combo 1 band took the stage to conclude the night and showcased their professional level of play in their set.
“FTB”, by Robert Glasper and arranged by the band’s bassist, Spencer Hinkle, started with Deandre Grover playing a fast tenor saxophone solo that incorporated both playing and a beat as he was clicking his mouth in between playing.
Grover’s saxophone was a prominent part of this upbeat song that led into a very technical guitar solo by Miles Nalasa. His solo had his hand running up and down the neck of his guitar as he flaunted his professional level of play to the audience and ended with a loud applause.
To conclude the night, Combo 1 played a jazz fusion take on “Yankee Doodle,” arranged by Chris Ott with a more modern twist with the bassist switching from the string bass to an electric bass and the pianist going from the piano to the keyboard.
The audience cheered for an encore after “Yankee Doodle”, and the band conceded with a blues chart.
“It’s not often where you have an ending to a concert that’s not formally curated by a teacher or organization,” Hinkle said.
Grover sounded the band off with another saxophone which went into more solos from each of the sections. However, when Hinkle was up to play his solo, he went back into the funk mood and played a slap bass solo that some of the band members were dancing to that finally ended the night.
“I was terrified,” Babad said about the band playing an encore, “[but] they kept it at a high level and I was glad about that… it’s kind of nice to end on a blues, you know?”
For upcoming concerts from all of the performing groups on campus, check the Fullerton College Music Department’s website.