Students inspire toe-tapping with 'Fallin' for Jazz'

By Bre Brown

The lights were low, and the hum of music alive in the air as the audience starts to filter into the Civic Center Nov. 8.

Quietly, a group of six men walked on stage to Laramie County Community College's "Fallin' 4 Jazz" to start the concert with "Jazz Tech." Four jazz pieces included two vocal performances from the group's trombone player, Mic Simons. With Gino Hernandez (tenor saxophone), Robert Smith (trumpet), John Brown (piano), Mike Brown (drums) and Isaac Swim (bass), Simons certainly put forth a good effort on the vocals.

But, truth be told, I enjoyed the group far better without the vocals, which I felt actually hindered the overall performance. As a trombone player and without vocals, Simons and the rest of the group created beautiful music.

Moving on in the show, Central High School came on to represent its true Indian talent with three pieces: "Alice in Wonderland," "Wonderful World" and "Conglomeration." These three pieces were fun and well done.

Highlighting soloists in every piece, the band featured Donovan Schutkowski (saxophone in "Alice in Wonderland"); Colton Kelley (guitar in "Alice in Wonderland") and Alex Fox (trombone in "Conglomeration"). The high school brought in a vocalist, Aaron Brugger, from the choir "Centralaires" to sing the solo for "Wonderful World."

Although there were some shaking from Brugger and some unwanted airiness from some instrumentalists, the overall sound of the band was great.

Before the concert, saxophonist Schutkowski and some of his colleagues said the only piece they were nervous about was "Alice in Wonderland," but the sound "will be great regardless." And how right he was. The sounds the Central band produced were great and very enjoyable to listen to from the audience.

East High School was next in line on the show list, performing "Caravan," "Back Bacon Blues" and "Gospel John." With numerous soloists Christian Hartigan (sax), Geoffery Hastings (sax), Kiana Rief (sax), Hayden Butterfield (trumpet), Nick Lavery (trombone), Michael Broyles (drums), Zachary Holroyd (drums) and Jake Ward (guitar), there was no doubt the East High School jazz band has a lot of great talent.

No one admitted to any nervousness before the concert, and one member even said he was "going in confident."

But I have to wonder if perhaps it was all the talent that made the performance sound and be visually too busy.

The soloists were great, but the busy sound of the music and performance of the soloist should have been more of the focus rather than the actual visual of the people in the band.

Still, the band did well, and I hope to hear more from them later this year.

Laramie County School District No. 1 has recently opened South High School in Cheyenne. With a still small population at the high school, butterflies were no doubt fluttering about in the stomachs of the performers.

Also performing three pieces, "Caravan," "Ocho, Ocho" and "You Know What," the new ensemble highlighted some of its great musicians including Ryan Fawcett (sax), Evan Miller (sax), Brian Wingate (sax), Sean McColley (trombone), Mark Broyles (drums), Tyler Payne (bass) and Emilie Quinlivan (piano).

The most entertaining and perhaps the most passionate about his music was saxophonist Wingate.

Wingate truly made his solos stand out and got into the music and performance of the night. His passion for music showed through better than any other soloist of the group.

The entire ensemble played with such raw urge for the music that they were the best performance of the high schools and just as much fun to listen to as the college band.

The last individual group was the LCCC Jazz Ensemble, performing six pieces including "The Bombers," "Sumpin' Special," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Samba Para Minha Avo'," "Fever" and "Flew the Coop."

The band created a magical place with the help of soloists Daniel Amoroso (sax), Wendi Porter (sax), Gabe Rocha (sax), Aaron Sitton (sax), Isaac Swanson (trumpet), Chris Conroy (trombone), Ron Rather (trombone), Amanda Barnes (rhythm), Scott Clabby (rhythm), Autumn Lanning (rhythm) and Carey Trammel (rhythm).

With the vocal assistance on two of the pieces from saxophonist Rocha on "Fly Me to the Moon" and Veronica Hanway on "Fever," the band had a great, full sound.

The only problem I had was in "Fever." While no doubt Hanway had a stunning voice and could knock anyone in his seats, it was kind of heavy and almost too poppy for the jazzy piece.

The way she carried herself as a vocal performer while she was singing was great, but I wish she would have kept that same character even while she wasn't singing. Overall, LCCC's jazz ensemble did an amazing job.

The grand finale was the piece titled "Combined Jazz Bands." It literally was that, as all four bands—Central Jazz Band, East Jazz Band, South High School Jazz Ensemble and LCCC Jazz Ensemble—came together to play one last piece, for which they had been together only a few times as a whole band to practice.

Highlighting at least two soloists from each group, the big group did a great job in their performance. The final soloists were as follows:

Matt Fox and David Reynolds (Central), Tanner McMillion and trombone player Nick Lavery (East), saxophonist Evan Miller and saxophonist Brian Wingate (South), saxophonist Gabe Rocha, saxophonist Aaron Sitton, Ron Swim, rhythmist Amanda Barnes and bassist Isaac Swim (LCCC).