Music ensemble brings cool, funky perspective to jazz

By Jose Perez

Staff Writer

Photos by Claudia Valerio | Bassist Robby White and drummer Jinyu Kim perform “Summer Samba.”

In the brightly lit C Building lobby, musicians from the Jazz Combo class ensemble, consisting of seven members, took on jazz classics Oct. 15. The entertainers held the audience’s attention with smooth and melodic tunes such as “Joy Spring.” The open area was the perfect locale for the booming sound of music that filled the room. The intimate crowd enjoyed the show and grooved to the fluid sounds coming from combinations of guitar, piano, drums and occasional vocals. With the warm aroma of coffee in the air, the scene resembled a café with free coffee and snacks for attendees.

The concert, consisting mainly of jaunty little pieces, held a consistent pace for the majority of the time, broken by the small hiccups that come when playing something as loose as jazz. Jinyu Kim played drums, tapping, pedaling and swinging in precise form. He stayed true to the music’s tempo and rhythms, except for those moments when he followed the lead of the guitarist’s changing tempo during a solo. Robby White on bass looked entranced as he tapped his feet, closed his eyes and slowly tuned his body to the music.

He played mean and lean walking bass lines composed of closely connected notes, coming out like low hushes the ear strains to hear. The bass held down the groove for the rest of the instruments to shine through. “If you are not contributing to the groove, then you’re taking away from it,” White said. Two guitarists took turns playing, eventually coming together for the last two songs, “Impressions” and “Butterfly.” Guitarist Lane White came in with a full sound and complimented the vocals in “Take the ‘A’ Train.”

Guitarist Pierce Bradley came onstage wearing shades, which he said contributed to the set design. Bradley’s sound boomed with a lively rhythm and notes that cut through the room. The music flowed through his body as the light from the wide windows reflected off his glasses like glowing confidence.

His solos were powerful and quick, showing his five years of experience. Bradley said he used to have anxiety before playing. “Sooner or later you get used to it, and you try to open up when performing and have a good time,” Bradley said. Jisun Huh, the director and course instructor, stood to the side conducting the performers. After some sideline coaching, she joined the band for Music ensemble brings cool, funky perspective to jazz their last song, “Butterfly.”

The concert, Huh said, was arranged to fit the small band. She picked the nine-song set list based on the students’ interest, with “Butterfly” being her favorite song. Serious jazz, such as “Joy Springs,” “Footprints” and “Whisper Not,” made the set difficult to play, but Huh said she was glad she picked those pieces because the band did well and came through as a well-practiced group.

The jazzy, funky show came to an end with a quick and upbeat version of “Butterfly,” made famous by Herbie Hancock, with a fade-away that left the room quiet before exploding with applause.