Fullerton College J Train Vocal Jazz Group and Big Band put on an intimate show at the FC Campus Theatre Tuesday night on Nov. 7.
It was an evening of popular ballads from the early 1900s and a kept a lively atmosphere. The crowd was small, but it only added to the feel of intimacy as everyone took seats in the front rows.
The FC Big Band consisted of a cellist, pianist, guitarist, three saxophonist, five trombonist, and four trumpeters.
With a count off the director of the jazz band, Bruce Babad, moved and swayed as he directed the band during a rendition of the popular tune “Money Cant Buy Me Love” by Paul McCartney.
With or without knowledge of the jazz world, it was all about feeling the music. It was the profoundness found in the notes that brought goosebumps and chills.
As FC Big Band was prepping for the next tune, Babad took the time to welcome and introduce the audience.
“I’m glad you all are here. We are here for one reason and that is to please you all, so thank you for supporting these talented young individuals.”
Suddenly, one of the saxophonist began the ballad of “Empty Ballroom Blues” by Duke Ellignton and cruised through a solo that had a quick pace to it, but the soloist managed to keep the chords clean. Cheers and applauds were given as the trumpeter burned through his solo with a relaxed speed.
Then, the entire band creeped in, giving a powerhouse sound, but still hinting at that bluesy feel.
The guitarist peacefully strummed through the stings of her guitar. The way she was in tune to the music left the audience in awe. As she was finishing off her set, all four trumpeters joined her to end the tune.
The jazz band then gave off the stage to the 13 person vocal jazz group J Train that was directed by Jaime Shew.
Accompanying J Train was a bass guitar, drums, and piano.
If there is one thing to be expected from vocal jazz groups, it is that the “bebop” style of jazz that almost seems improvised will be performed—and that is exactly how the ensemble led off their set with “Sassy Samba” composed by Jimmy Heath.
Very much in sync, the group had fun with their notes that would change from one octave high to an octave lower. The connection the group had exuded an upbeat atmosphere as they sang while smiling to each other and swaying to the beat.
Their set of five ballads were wonderfully presented. There were ballads that felt dull and dragged during some points, but they quickly restored with a much more upbeat change of chords that kept the night going.
The show came to end when the big band came back on to wow the audience with “Salt Peanut” by composer Dizzy Gillespie. This number was a sure winner with its soloists.
Special guest Chad Willis, a faculty member in the music department at FC, contributed to the number. He burned through the chords that resonated within the room. It ended with the entire ensemble adding power behind each note and each blow.
Babad walked around clapping impressed by how well the band performed. Talent at Fullerton College was definitely reflected that night.