The Young Sounds of Arizona at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Patricia Myers By

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The Young Sounds of Arizona at Phoenix Center for the Arts
Spring Concert
Phoenix, Arizona
March 5, 2015

The two youth jazz bands of Young Sounds of Arizona performed a satisfying concert of cohesive section work and talented soloists before a near-capacity audience that came to hear teenage musicians who attend Phoenix-area high schools.

Young Sounds director Vince Wedge introduced the 5'Oclock Band, a septet that opened the concert with a sparkling rendition of "On the Sunny Side of the Street." The 1930s Jimmy McHugh composition featured solos by saxophonist Clint Ottmar and trumpeter Ashley Irvin, with electric pianist Christopher Reyes also handling vocals. Next was a medium-tempo modern blues, "Other Mothers Brothers Blues" by Bob Sennett, that also featured Ottmar, as well as trumpeter Pablo Beckman and acoustic bassist Emily Ruth.

The band's set closed with the 1960s R&B chart "Unchain My Heart" that was sparked by Reyes channeling the soulful vocal huskiness of the original hit-maker, Ray Charles, as drummer Dawson Weiss enhanced with tom-tom segments. The septet has become a well-meshed ensemble, coached by Andrew Gross, assistant director of Young Sounds.

The Seven O'Clock Band, a full big band directed by Wedge, opened the second set with an arrangement from Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. "Where or When" from the 1937 Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical "Babes in Arms" was fueled by bright solos from trumpeter Alex Price and tenor saxophonist Jacob Lipp, solidly supported by drummer Patrick Gaughan.

Shorty Rogers' swinging "Basie Eyes" featured three Harmon-muted trumpets contrasted by Mariel Sokolov's inventive progressions on baritone sax, then a fluid solo by Lipp on tenor. "The Other Side of the Circle" was a haunting ballad in a more contemporary mode, with piano-bass union lines segueing into trumpet-tenor sax dualism by Alejandro Ojeda and Lipp.

Pianist Jacob Franklin was featured on Oliver Nelson's "Step Right Up" that featured Price's trumpet forays and a solo by trombonist Arturo Aguilera. Composer Fred Sturm's "Aim High" was competently delivered with energized momentum, impressive dynamics and complicated tempo changes. In its first performance, this big band was an impressive aggregation of skilled student musicians.

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