Through its concentrations on stylistic genres, any person can hear the artist’s message. These passionate notes inspire, direct and create lifestyles for up-and-coming bands, like UC Irvine’s jazz ensemble Open Fifth, who performed at the Anthill Pub last Thursday.
Dressed in blazers and jeans, these friends and music students gave patrons a fresh take on the lesser-known music form of jazz.
“I’ve never really seen stuff like this played before,” commented Kim-linh Do, a biological sciences major. “It’s very mellow … I like it.”
Open Fifth, comprised of a bassist Stephan Talmadge, a fourth-year jazz bass performance and mechanical engineering double major, saxophonist James Garritson, a fourth-year jazz saxophone performance major, Scott Somers, a fourth-year jazz trumpet performance major, percussionist Jacob Wendt, a second-year jazz percussion performance major and pianist Lex Leigh, a UCI alum who majored in jazz piano performance.
There were also two guest trombonists and two guest guitarists in all, as the band played many of their own songs with some crowd-pleasers, like The Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
Many people regard jazz as the first form of American music, which led to our progression in the emergence of different styles over the years. The Beatles became enamored with artists like Chuck Berry, which is apparent through some of their musical choices in their earlier years. Miles Davis, an ex-Julliard jazz student, left school to have a memorable career in music.
As one of the trombonists for Open Fifth put it, “Everyone we love didn’t go to school. When [an artist] is in school, they are taught music from the past. Being in the scene while it’s happening, music is in the process of being born – there are no rules. [I believe] every musician has to step into that.”
The group gave way to countless solos by many of the performers, while keeping its set smooth throughout the entire performance. The percussionist brought great grooves to many of the songs, while the songs including guitar accompaniment sometimes utilized a wah-wah pedal to keep the tone of its sound constantly softer and melodically driven.
“People usually play what they know others would want to hear, but when you play passionately, you’re playing from your spirit, and everyone can see that,” the trombonist continued. “People take notice when someone plays passionately, no matter what [the musical phrase] is.”
Open Fifth came together a few years ago. The band had begun to form earlier on, but were closest to their final ensemble when Garritson and Somers entered into their freshman year. The band’s members were or are members of UCI’s music department, and have been playing their instruments for many years.
With every type of beer flowing through the place, the Anthill Pub created the perfect backdrop for the sultry tones of the band members’ instruments. The place was packed with an interested audience and many of the band’s aficionados.
“The trumpeter and the trombonist were so into some of their songs,” Do added. “It really added another level to their music when I saw them give their all.”
Henry David Thoreau, an existentialist and revolutionary thinker for his time, was quoted once for saying, “Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their lives that they have heard it.”
The members of Open Fifth, however, do not fall into this category. If anything, the passion that surrounds their lives was entwined through the building and their listeners more than the notes themselves, which is more than an accomplishment; it’s a true, musical gift.
Filed Under: A & E