Nationally recognized ensemble to perform at home


Director Art LaPierre goes over the vocals of the song “Ruby Baby.” Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller originally wrote the song but the rendition they will be performing is by Donald Fagen.

Brandon Nelson and Brandon Nelson

The American River Vocal Jazz Ensemble will be holding a concert on March 19 in the ARC Theater.

General admission will be just $10 at the door and the event will be open to the public. The concert will also have special guests from Natomas Charter School and their jazz choir. The show starts at 8 p.m. and should end around 10 p.m.

According to professor Art LaPierre, director of the ensemble, “it will include several faculty playing the rhythm section” as well.

The ensemble is well-known nation wide, most notably for its 13 DownBeat awards in different categories of the student’s achievement section, some of which can be found in LaPierre’s office.

DownBeat awards are given by Down Beat magazine, a national magazine that reviews jazz professionals and colleges with jazz programs.

“We compete in different categories. We participate in the vocal jazz ensemble collegiate level, freshman through senior,” stated LaPierre.

Because there are no divisions separating community colleges and four-year universities, ARC has to “go up against the big boys within this competition,” as LaPierre put it.

“It’s been an honor for the ensemble and the school to be recognized at the national level,”  LaPierre said.

The ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble has CDs that are available for students to purchase.

“We have nine CDs out and two more in, what they say, ‘the can.’” LaPierre told The Current. “You can buy our CDs on our own ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble website, or you can go to”

The ensemble will be competing at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey on Mar 30. The winning group will be able to perform with some professionals in a group.

“I am excited and anxious for the upcoming concert! I am excited for our first ‘home’ concert of the season! We recently had the opportunity to perform at the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) Conference in Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago. After every performance we review our successes and our shortcomings.” Said Megan Ugarte in an email to The Current. Ugarte is a soprano in the ensemble.

“We typically see a crowd of 100 people or so. We try to publicize as much as we can, but it can be hard to get people to come at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday. Every ticket sold buys us more time in the recording studio or helps pay for hotel rooms when we travel” said Darius Sharpe, a member of the ensemble.

LaPierre believes the makeup ensemble’s following is a rather peculiar.

“It’s weird we are known nationally better than we are known locally, I don’t know if that’s a jazz thing or if its because we’re a commuter school,” he said.