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By Andrea Martinez

On Saturday night, March 11, the UCSC Jazz Combo and Big Band held a performance at the Music Center Recital Hall and it was the best way to spend a night.

UCSC’s Jazz Combo

My expectations were already surpassed by the opening group. The band performed impressively both individually and together. Their theme, “The Latin Side of Jazz,” truly exposed me to a different side of jazz than what I usually hear while hanging out in a coffee shop. Since they were all so incredible, it’s difficult to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say that their execution of “Watermelon Man,” composed by Herbie Hancock and arranged by Mongo Santamaria, and “Yanal,” composed and arranged by Charles Hamilton, truly stood out to me the most because of the faster pace and incredible solos slipped in during the performances. I particularly enjoyed the moments when the audience would assume the end of the performance after an amazing percussion solo, only to be caught off guard by the other instruments’ sudden but seamless entry. It was incredible how student Mauricio Bautista took control of the performance and shared his experiences with Latin Jazz after each performance, making the experience more intimate.

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Photo by Andrea Martinez

UCSC’s Jazz Big Band

The Jazz Big Band took the stage next, and once more, I was astounded by their talent. I was amazed at how beautifully the instruments worked together the entire time. The jazz was in a different style this time, but it still amazed me. My mind was blown by this portion, which focused more on the music of renowned jazz musician Thad Jones. I was completely focused on the bass, piano, drums, and wind instrument combination! Thad Jones’ composition and arrangement “Mean What You Say” was unquestionably my favorite, largely due to how difficult the piece sounded with all the solos that took place within it. Of course, each component was intricate, but that particular one attracted my attention. This group is full of talent, among other things, and they played flawlessly together and kept the performance alive!

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Photo by Andrea Martinez

All in all, these students are all very talented and so is their director, Charles Hamilton, and I really would enjoy attending more of these performances to hear more outstanding work like this! In addition, senior, graduating student and band manager, Robert Fleming had amazing saxophone solos and kept on surprising me, especially during the “Mean What You Say” performance. As much as I’d like to continue talking about these amazing students my words can’t express how great they perform, this is something you’d have to check out one day for yourself, so keep an eye out for more events coming soon!