Anteaters Keep It Jazzy

The Department of Music presented the event “Jazz Concert: The UCI Small Groups” at Winifred Smith Hall last Wednesday, March 6. Three professors each led a group composed of eight to 10 undergraduate jazz major students to perform for the audience.

Not just a concert for those who are fans of jazz music, it is also a traditional activity to give the students an opportunity of having performing experiences.

Kei Akagi, Chancellor’s Professor of the Department of Music and the Director of the Jazz Studies program, said, “Once a quarter, we have a concert where the students can show what they have been practicing.” It is a stage for the students to display themselves.

The first group of the evening, “The Tuesday Combo,” was instructed by Professor Darek Oles, lecturer of jazz bass. Compared to the very formal, theater-style concert, it was more intimate and had more interactions with the audience.

The entire hall filled up rapidly after the doors opened. The staff had to keep people who came late outside because there was no extra space. During the performance, the sounds of warm applause were long and heartfelt.

Bobby Rodriguez, lecturer of jazz trumpet, performed with his team, “The Latin Jazz Combo.” The melody was getting cheerful and light-hearted. A surprising dance from one of the players created a little climax during the performance. Some of the audience members were affected by the mood and could not help moving their to the rhythm, even while they were in their seats.

A faculty performance was presented after the intermission.

Akagi said: “A bunch of us, faculty, we decided to have some fun. We just decided, you know, to come up here and play it.” The professors in the music department gave everyone a remarkable jazz show to make the concert even more impressive. It was followed by the third group, “The Advanced Jazz Combo,” which was instructed by Professor Akagi.

“I think it went really well, especially because every time we kind of play in a group for class. It’s a learning experience. This quarter, we actually had the opportunity of playing with the head of the entire jazz department, which was run by Kei Akagi. He is the head of the department. He has played with so many great people, including people like Miles Davis. Being able to learn those kinds of lessons from him about how to expand musically is something that I really cherish, something I’m glad I was able to do because I can just see everybody’s improvement, just from eight weeks, just from playing together in a group, you really get better. You really get that much better from doing so,” Dylan Romaine, an undergraduate jazz major said. He played bass in both “The Tuesday Bombo” and “The Advanced Jazz Combo.”

“I’m surely happy with the audience’s responses while we did different kinds of music. Seemed like people enjoy it,” Shawn Graham, the bass player in “The Tuesday Combo” and “The Latin Jazz Combo,” said. He is an undergraduate jazz major student who is a recipient of the Alice Lowell Memorial Scholarship.

As the academic year goes on, more performances and events like this one are coming under Claire Trevor School of the Arts. The next will be at Winifred Smith Hall on Wednesday, May 22. No ticket or reservation is needed. However, it is recommended for those who are interested in this event to arrive early because seats are limited.