Vocal jazz ensemble performs first home concert after division conference

Kevin Sheridan and Kevin Sheridan

The American River College vocal jazz ensemble performed its first home concert of the season March 19 in the theater.

The band returned home after a successful performance at the American Choral Directors Association Western Division Conference in Santa Barbara.

The ensemble performed eight songs, such as George Gershwin’s “Lady be Good,” as well as compositions by Duke Ellington. The band also performed songs by Stevie Wonder that had been arranged by ARC music professor Joe Gilman.

In addition to teaching at ARC, Gilman is a pianist who has performed professionally with musicians, including Eddie Harris and Woody Shaw.

The jazz choir also performed “Route 66” and “Java Jive” from Manhattan Transfer.

The jazz ensemble performed a wide range of music from the 1960s and 1990s, covering all forms of jazz music.

“I need to prepare my students to perform in all forms, both live and in the recording studio,” said the ensemble’s director, Art LaPierre.

“(LaPierre) definitely has a certain sound and blend in mind, and he’s become successful. At this point, we’re working on our articulations and dynamic panels. This year’s group does have a lot of potential,” said Megan Ugarte, the leading soprano in the ensemble group.

The performance also included a four-woman jazz ensemble team which performed “Love Came Gently” by Ricky Skaggs.

ARC’s ensemble was joined by Natomas Charter School Jazz Choir, which performed songs like Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

“Many of the faculty (in the music department) have outreach programs, usually used as a recruitment tool,” said LaPierre. “(It) fosters a great sense of community.”

The ensemble also featured a funky set of jazz, a different type of jazz that originated in Detroit and Philadelphia, according to LaPierre.

The number of concerts performed by the ensemble varies with each semester.

“It changes, but my group performs a great deal. We’ve performed at three high schools, two home concerts, ACDA Western Division Conference in Santa Barbara, the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey and we did a combined concert with Sierra College,” said LaPierre.

The next concert will be held May 14, at 8 p.m. in the ARC theater.