REVIEW: Big Band Dazzles Guests with Sounds of the Blues

Santa Ana College Big Jazz Band performed at their final show of the spring semester on May 17. / Nikki Nelsen/ el Don

Jaqueline Espinoza’s sparkly, cream-colored dress glimmered off the stage lights as the saxophones launched into a mellow, swing tempo. The lead singer of Santa Ana College’s Big Band readied for her solo with what looked like a glow surrounding her body. She began to sing in Portuguese.

  Abraços e beijinhos, e carinhos sem ter fim. Que é pra acabar com esse negócio, de você viver sem mim…

  The bossa nova jazz song “No More Blues” was just one of ten pieces played by SAC jazz students at the high-energy annual concert Friday, May 17 that reflected the diversity of the big-band tradition.

  “All of Me,” composed by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons, garnered the most engagement from the audience with multiple solos from saxophonists like Adrian Olmos, a SAC student, and Dan Kaneyuki, a professional musician who performed alongside students.

  Hannah Chang, the new upright bassist, also made her singing debut on “All of Me,” her soft, clear voice complementing the plucking of her bass.

  “When I hear my teammates and see how talented they are, I really feel proud of being part of the band,” Espinoza said.

  SAC students weren’t the only ones pulling from across the jazz repertoire that night.

  Santa Ana High School’s Jazz Band was also in full swing at the event, performing five songs on their own including “Jumpin’ Jack,” a song popularized by the swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy that featured thundering drums, making many of the audience dance in their seats.

  With the help of SAC’s Big Band members, the SAHS Jazz Band was able to rearrange their set last minute after their director, Victor de Los Santos, failed to show up.

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  “I usually take charge in situations like these,” said Shaulyn Barban, a senior at SAHS and a trombonist in the band, after the performance.

  “It’s kinda hard when your conductor is not here, but I like to do it and it shows how independent we are within our school.”

Michael Briones — who served as the emcee for the evening, cracking jokes and interacting with the crowd — was proud of both bands for their hard work, dedication and passion for the genre. He was especially impressed with his own students, with whom he had worked with all semester to prepare for the show.

“Every semester, there have been amazing improvement [from the students] where they step it up to ten notches somehow, so that’s always nice to hear,” Briones said.

Photo by Nikki Nelsen/ el Don

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