First Friday Jazz concert explores latin influence

Blown Away- Trumpet players Paul Litteral- Kentucky, right,  and Konstantins Jemelijanovs  play "Night in Tunisia" at the First Friday Jazz Concert in the S-2 Recital Hall on March 6.
Blown Away– Trumpet players Paul Litteral, right, and Konstantins Jemelijanovs play “Night in Tunisia” at the First Friday Jazz Concert in the S2 Recital Hall on March 6. CN/ Danny Vasquez

By Alexa Santana 

 First Friday Jazz offered a taste of Latin culture to East Los Angeles College at the S2 Recital Hall this past Friday.

The L.A. Mambo All-Star Orchestra gave a wonderful performance.

Roberto Chavez Jr., also known as Bobby, professor at ELAC and UCLA Extension, is the orchestra’s musical director.

Ten pieces that incorporated a variety of Latin culture played during the two-hour show.

The show consisted of Latin Jazz, Afro-Cubano Jazz, Mambo Swing, Mambo and much more.

The orchestra did a splendid job and delivered such a great performance.

Chavez is fortunate to be directing a talented group of individuals that have professional experience.

Members of his group have had the chance to work with stars such as Whitney Houston, Ray Charles and many more.

Chavez did a great job of incorporating the history of Latin music. Before the start of each song, Chavez went into detail about where the music originates from and how it has evolved.

In Chavez’s Bolero piece, El Dia Que Me Quieras, he explained that the music originally came from the country of Cuba.

It found its way into Mexico and eventually Mexican composers changed Bolero music by slowing it down. It is now played this way by Cubans.

This piece stood out from the rest because Chavez’s father, Roberto Chavez, was the vocalist.

His voice was soft, and gave a romantic and intimate feeling to the song.

Having his father be part of his performance showed the love of music they both share.

The crowd responded to his father’s singing with a standing ovation.

Roberto Chavez Sr. was a big influence for Chavez and was the one who introduced him to music.

Dancing also played a part in this piece, and other pieces as well.

Students from the Dance Department added to the Latin jazz concert.

The Latin Jazz piece “Night In Tunisia” had a powerful beat that captivated the audience

It was so impactful that it brought chills to the body.

Latin Dream is a song from Brazil. It started off soft, and had a romantic tone. The saxophone solo made the song stand out.

Along with that, the flugelhorn solo, which was played by Chavez himself, added intensity to its softness.

Of the whole performance, the least interesting was the Afro-Cubano.

It wasn’t a bad performance, but rather it sounded as if it were calling out an army.

What was great about the overall experience was the variety the show offered.

Chavez made sure to have the audience’s attention throughout the entire show and did so in such a great way.

At one point, the audience played a part in the performance.

During a Mambo, Perez Prado Medley, Chavez informed the audience to perform a loud grunt that was needed as part of the song.

He also brought a sense of humor which made the show more fun to watch.

Not only is he the orchestra’s music director, but he also played the trumpet and the flugelhorn.

Chavez is a music educator and jazz ensemble director with 24 years of experience in the United States Army Band Program, professional bands, universities, private schools, and private studios.

Chavez’s wife had a great influence on him and was the one who encouraged him to put the band together.

First Friday Jazz is held every first Friday of the month at the S-2 Recital Hall.

The next First Friday concert will be held on April 3.

Tickets are $6 for students with their student ID and $12 for the general public.


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