The MCC Jazz Ensemble had their first performance of the semester on Feb. 28 at Red Mountain High School. The event started with the Red Mountain High School Jazz 1 group, directed by Vince Wedge, followed by the MCC Community Band.
Directed by Rob Hunter, the community band played a total of four songs, each one to near perfection. The band meets once a week on Thursdays and consists of almost 70 students, faculty, bandleaders, and other community members.
The Jazz Ensemble played last and blew the socks off the audience.
Their first song “Lester Jumps Out”, a take off of Lester Young’s “Lester Leaps In”, was a upbeat song with solo’s by Sam Dodge on the saxophone and Ryan Dingess on the piano.
“Madelyn’s Song” featured Dingess and Justin Peterson on the trumpet, and transitioned through sadness to a happy, bittersweet feeling and ending with a resilient and triumphant tone.
The heartbreak and remorsefulness in the auditorium during Elliot Ventimiglia’s sax solo in “My Lament” was almost tangible.
The last song of the evening, “Nostalgia in Times Square”, featured Sean Brogan on bass, Chris Hoskins on sax, and John Welsch and Peterson on guitar.
The performance brought emotions back into good spirits and encompassed what most everyone expects from jazz; a fast paced fun song loaded with excitement. Some members of the audience even let a few whoops and hollers slip out.
Barb Catlin, director of the MCC Jazz Ensemble, was very proud of the performance given by the group. Not only was it their first concert of the semester, it was the first jazz performance ever for a few of the members.
“MCC has one of the strongest and longest running jazz programs in Arizona,” said Catlin.
She encourages students to go out and support the jazz groups, reminding people that they are “an award winning high caliber band.”
The wonderful thing about jazz is “the ability to express your own sounds and ideas. A lot is improvised so every band will sound different when playing the same song. Everyone brings a piece of themselves,” Catlin added.
Welsch, who has played the guitar for almost nine years, started with rock music but prefers jazz because of the lack of traditional rules, the improvisation, and because it’s more fun. He enjoys playing with the ensemble because it gives him an opportunity to “jam” with other instruments and a lot of other good players.
Welsch even has a band outside of school with Dingess, Brogan, a few sax players, and Wes Anderson who played drums for the MCC Jazz Ensemble.
The message Welsch wants to get out to others is, “Play the music if you like it, it’s a shame it’s not considered cool. Don’t be afraid to like jazz.