The Broad Stage was turned into a
cool jazz club on Sunday as the Santa
Monica College Jazz band performed
for the Eclectic Music Offering.
The bluesy sounds of the saxophone,
the improvisational drum beats and the
tinkling of the ivories made the music
come alive to the audience with iconic
musical pieces by Thelonious Monk and
Benny Golson.
The band began the program with
the song "Alicia" which was written by
SMC faculty member Leslie Drayton
of the music department. The band
consisted with an array of instruments
ranging from saxophones, trombones,
drums, double bass and horns.
"Thank you for coming and for your
gracious response," said Keith Fiddmont,
SMC jazz band conductor as the band
received an enthusiastic applause on
their first musical number.
Fiddmont proceeded to introduce
singer Heather Jakeman who sung a
medley of jazz songs that included
the Judy Garland staple, "Get Happy"
and the Gershwin tune, "They can't
take that away from me." Jakeman
was accompanied by Kevin O'Neal
who would be the star of the show
as he participated throughout the
whole program playing piano and
singing. O'Neal and another singer
by the name of Patricia Quinn would
duet accompanied by a music quintet
in a Monk tribute as Fiddmont also
contributed to the piece by playing the
saxophone. The piece was jazzy and
blue, relaxing yet cool. Both O'Neal and
Quinn sang over each other sounding
like contradicting conversations and yet
becoming whole at the end.
"Moanin' " was the next tune that
was sung and played by a quintet but
also played by the whole jazz band.
This was done with another tune called
"Killer Joe".
First, "Moanin' ", the famous tune
by jazz pianist Bobby Timmons was
played by the whole band and then a
quintet consisting of piano, cello and
drums played the song as O'Neal and
Quinn sang. O'Neal clapped his hands
and stomped his feet with zeal as he sang
about the things he wishes he had to get
the woman he wants but cannot while
Quinn jazz vocalized with a moaning
pain that reflected the lyrics, "Every
morning find me moanin' cause of all
the trouble I see."
The next song was saxophonist
Benny Golson's legendary "Killer Joe".
Fiddmont talked about the legend. " I
played at a tribute to Benny Golson
and this song made him rich because
it is a standard, called 'Killer Joe',"
Fiddmont said.
The band played it first, as always
with a cool beat that was followed by a
saxophone solo, a trombone solo, and
a trumpet solo. As the band played,
they evoked a sense of coolness and relaxation unlike a classical music
performance that usually seem uptight
and serious. Fiddmont seemed to be
the one to set this mood as instead of
being stationary with a baton instead
walked around being cool and letting
the audience know when to clap after
killer solos. The singing part of "Killer
Joe" had sing-ers Quinn and Jakeman
singing about the "man who would
kill that Latin beat" as they were
accompanied by the conga drum, a
cowbell, piano and the double bass.
Nedra Wheeler rocked the bass as she
made the tune infinitely cooler with her
plucking that made an indescribable
sound that made the whole audience
clap. "That was different, I loved it,"
Fiddmont said after witnessing the great
Fiddmont went on to talk about his
12 siblings, all of whom are singers,
and how he only played clarinet and
saxophone but never sang. "I sang but
always in private and I am going to sing
in public for you today," Fiddmont said
as the audience gave him encouraging
applause. Fiddmont went on to sing,
"Bennie's from Heaven", a parody of
the 30s song, "Pennies from Heaven".
The audience laughed as the song talked
about a lieutenant who after being
overseas for three years returns home
to find his wife has a baby and when
he asks his wife where the child came
from, his wife just replies, "Bennie's
from Heaven."
Before the band played the last
song of the evening, Charles Mingus's
"Nostalgia in Times Square" Fiddmont
proceeded to introduce the whole
band with applause throughout the
whole theater.
"Thank you all for coming out today
and come back and support us again,"
Fiddmont said as he began "Nostalgia
in Times Square". While O'Neal
and Quinn sang the jazzy tune, solos
from the sax, trombone and trumpet
instantly became a jazz infusion that
ended with roaring applause.
The crowd enjoyed the show, even
the president of SMC, Dr. Chui L.
Tsang was there to enjoy the jazzy
sounds of the jazz band. "It was
marvelous to see the depths of the
talent these musicians have," Tsang