Under Director’s 8-year Tenure, Old Meets New in Jazz Band Performance

El Vaquero Staff Writer

The blending of jazz music and soloists come alive during the GCC Jazz Band performances and the fall concert, held on Nov. 23 in the main auditorium, was no exception, as the band played under director Raymond Burkhart.

For this particular concert, the band used their older pieces, adding in a few newer ones as well, which were all put together by Burkhart.
“The director has been working very hard on getting this group together for a few years,” eight in fact, said saxophone player Leanne Powers. “It’s really a joy to be playing with musicians this good.”

The band meets once every Tuesday to rehearse, and has a library of a few hundred songs. They have about 20 new pieces added to their collection. Burkhart does all the programming for the band and chooses all the pieces for the concerts.

“We’re working a lot of tunes into our repertory,” said Burkhart.

The many performers and members of the band included Leanne Powers, Guillerme Fraga, Rial Gallagher, Virginia Moore, Kendall Wallace, Megan Swan, Steve Agopian, Gabino Varela, Paul Boardman, and Jim Davy. The soloists included an international student from Brazil, Michelle Alonso and Nalini Lasiewicz.

“This is my second semester,” said Lasiewicz. “I’ve been singing my whole life for my own hobby. I play guitar and I write songs, but this was the first time I had the chance to sing as a soloist.”
Lasiewicz has participated in Peter Green’s Vocal Ensemble and has always harmonized.

Among the many pieces performed during the concert were “720 In the Books,” “Body and Soul,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” “Love is Here to Stay” and
“Shout Me Out.”

The Jazz Band holds three stage concerts during the year, but performs regularly on the first Tuesday evening of most months at the Glendale Adult Recreation Center, located on 201 E. Colorado, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The performances at the Adult Recreation Center are a new addition to the band, as it is a positive way for them to promote their talent, and a way for GCC students and community to get involved.

“This year, we’re doing something new,” said Burkhart. As of right now, the performances at the center are free of charge.

The experience at the Recreation Center gives the audience a different feel, providing them with an upbeat show and dancing. Chairs get moved to the side as the band plays while the audience gathers to dance, allowing the band members to showcase their talent.

Powers, who has played the saxophone for 25 years, has been with the band for three years.

“It’s a good way to be creative and kind of relieve stress,” she said.
Trumpet player Swan has been performing with the band for three months and wanted to continue in the jazz scene because she is a classical player.

The band also recently finished its concert at the Recreation Center on Dec. 2.

For more information on The GCC Jazz Band, log on to www.tromba.us/gccjazzband.