Los Angeles, CA (Sept. 25, 2010) Most jazz is experienced in small, intimate venues; bringing the audience into the music through its close proximity and rich, vivacious notes. As a lover of jazz, I must admit that the idea of listening to a performance in a large auditorium, such as UCLA’s Royce Hall, was something that I thought would be uninspiring compared to the soul that is jazz. How wrong I was.
Attending a performance by the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO) is an indescribable experience. Under the direction of co-Music Director Mitch Glickman, the new composition from Charles Floyd entitled “Elements,” opened the show. Tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb was featured soloist in a piece that was rich in tone and texture. The full-bodied orchestral rhythms invigorated and mesmerized the listeners.
The audience was treated to the vivacious sounds of Grammy winner, and four-time Grammy nominated, Luciana Souza with a “Tribute to Jobim.” The arrangement by Vince Mendoza complimented Luciana’s uniquely far-ranging voice that is infused with the sultry energy of her Brazilian homeland. I had never experience jazz sung in Portuguese, but her renditions of “Aguas de Marco” and “Modinha” were unforgettable. Luciana further displayed her range with the intricate melodies of Hermeto Pascoal’s delightful “Chorinho Pre Ele,” arranged by Gil Goldstein.
The opening of the second half of the performance brought one of jazz’s all times greats to the stage, SJO’s co-Music Director George Duke. Duke directed the SJO through a movement of “Muir Woods Suite” that really highlighted the instrumental variety the orchestra had to offer. The remaining selections were smooth jazz in style but a joy to experience from one of the all time greats.
Singer/songwriter Raul Midon was the final featured artist for the evening. While the orchestra had minimal involvement in this portion of the show, the contemporary, jazz-tinged vocal/guitar offerings that are signature Midon, were no less powerful. Wrapping up the evening with a duet performed by Souza and Midon on Duke’s “Festival,” was a dynamic close to a remarkable event.
Since it’s debut in 2002, the SJO has been dedicated to bringing the “musical genre that blends the American language of jazz with European orchestral tradition” to Southern California. In dedication to this goal, the SJO also has many outreach programs designed to bring music to school for all age ranges. If you are interested in learning more about the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra concerts or non-profit programs, visit them at http://symphonicjazzorchestra.org