By Jorge Vazquez
Starting the jolly month on the right foot, the ELAC Jazz band held a holiday jazz concert Friday.
The concert took place in the S2 recital hall and was free to students and community members alike.
It was Jazz Ensemble Director Bobby Chavez’s first show in his new position. Last year, he was assistant director to Bob Dawson.
Chavez went from lead trumpet in recitals last year to conductor and director this year.
The Jazz Ensemble performed timely and traditional songs such as “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Silent Night,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
A few songs in the program featured impressive solos. Trombone player Tom Manasian gave a mellow yet groovy performance during his solo on “Christmas Time is Here.”
Another solo feature that stood out was from trumpet player Paul Litteral on “Silent Night,” who did the holiday-time classic justice.
Aside from instruments, the Jazz Ensemble had two student vocalists, Marilynn Melissa Ramirez and Angelene Storey, who performed “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Santa Baby,” respectively.
Halfway through the concert, a Jazz Combo collective within the ensemble took the reins for three songs.
The Jazz combo consisted of alto Jorge Amezcua, tenor Ivan Romero-Bautista, pianist Stephan Alvarez, guitarist Gilbert Chinn, bassist Jonathan Rivera, and drummer Carlos Maroquin.
During their three songs, they all had their own individual solos, but Alvarez and Maroquin stood out the most with their performances.
Maroquin showed his creativity and rhythm skills in the song “Four” by walking around the drum set and using different parts of the drum frame to make the sound he needed, which got a shocked and impressed reaction from the audience.
In “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” Alvarez set a reflective and joyous, yet somber tone.
He also displayed his dexterity with his quick scales and use of almost all 88 keys.
After the Jazz combo, Chavez introduced special guest Jazz and Opera vocalist Sylvia Boyd.
Boyd hails from Detroit, Michigan and has more than 15 years of experience as a jazz singer.
She has performed at the Edinburg Jazz and Blues Festival in Scotland, as well as this past summer in the musical “When Divas Were Divas,” portraying Jazz singer and four-time Grammy winner Sarah Vaughn.
Boyd’s elegant, soulful, and showy performance of “Merry Christmas Baby” created new fans in the crowd.
Toward the end of the program, Chavez mentioned the eleventh song would be the last song, though there were twelve.
He then charmingly joked that the twelfth was a “forced encore,” which got a laugh from the audience, keeping with the playful feel of the concert.
The eleventh song, “Feliz Navidad” featured all three vocalists which had the crowd clapping along to the beat.
Boyd then finished the concert by taking over vocals on “Jingle Bells,” after the Jazz ensemble bowed and received a standing ovation.
Post-show, Bobby Chavez said his ensemble did great and he wanted to encourage students to enroll in a new class.
The Musical History of Mexico, that will be offered spring 2018.
He then ended the concert with a simple “Feliz Navidad!”