By Joseph Foard | Contributing Writer

Jazz Fans enjoy an evening of the Jazz Band’s talents. (Joseph Foard/COLLEGIAN)

The rows of chairs in the Soda Center’s Claeys Lounge were packed to capacity; sound reverberated against the walls, but none of it came from the audience. Even on the couches and sofas lined up against the back wall, black-suited musicians sat attentively while waiting to for their time to perform.

The sound came from the front of the room, with the smooth serenades of a saxophone, the deep yet energetic notes of trumpets, and the dainty harmonies of the piano complementing the other instruments.
In the front of the band, vocalist Evelyn Rumsby took the microphone. “I, who was lost and lonely,” she sings, “believing life was only the bitter tragic joke; I found with you the meaning of existence, oh my love.” With the piece’s final notes, the audience burst into rounds of rousing applause.

On Thursday night, Oct. 5, the Saint Mary’s Jazz Band and Jazz Combo held a concert in the Soda Center alongside the Campolindo High School Jazz Band, performing pieces such as “The Secret of the Blues” by Bob Curnow’s, “After You’re Gone,” as arranged by Chris Sharp, and “All of Me” by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks.

“I loved it,” said Cathy Davalos, a Performing Arts professor who attended the concert. “I thought it was awesome…John Maltester always [puts on] a great show, and the students in our ensemble are amazing and contagious when it comes to performing.”
John Maltester, the director of the concert and the Jazz Band and Jazz Combo, had his own thoughts to share about the performances. “It’s just nice to share,” said Maltester, “[to] have people share their music with us; everybody gets to hear a little bit of everything.”
According to Maltester, the concert functioned as an exam of sorts for the band in addition to a performance. “Concerts are sort of like midterms,” he said, “It’s hard in a performance group to have a written exam…what we try to do when we pick the literature [and] the music they’re going to play [is] we try to find things that will help them perfect their techniques in jazz as well as [find] good music to listen to.

“So, it’s a combination of something that’s pleasing for the audience and something that the group will develop on. As we go through the year, the music actually gets more challenging. It’s like any course. As you get further along, it gets tougher and tougher.”
Despite the challenge of a concert, the performances still let listeners and performers alike relieve stress.
“I think it’s a celebration of jazz,” said Cyrena Scott, a saxophonist in the concert and a fourth year member of Saint Mary’s jazz band. “Just being able to bring together a group of people on a night and say, ‘Forget all your other responsibilities, just relax and have fun.’”

In all, Maltester said the concert was a way for jazz to be heard in a period when it seems like there may not be enough time to do so.
“I think people tend not to listen to jazz music as much,” said Maltester, “…especially the students that are involved in academia. People that are in colleges, they’re so hard-pressed to get all of their academics out of the way, that they find less and less time to sit back and listen.”

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