‘They looked good and sounded better’

Jazz band, wind ensemble perform final concert in OC’s old band room

BREMERTON — Olympic College billed the June 7 performance as a “farewell concert” — the last spring instrumental concert to take place in MUS 114, the band room in the old music/art complex on the college’s Bremerton campus.

When asked how they would like this concert review to read, the musicians said, “They looked good and sounded better.”

And they did.

The students, who came in all ages, said they played because it was a passion. Most of them don’t plan to be professional musicians. But under the direction of Music Director Rick White, they played like pros.

It was the last performance in the well-used building that has been around since the 1960s; by fall semester, the building will have been torn down to make way for a parking lot and the department will be housed in the new College Instruction Center and performing in the new 270-seat William D. Harvey Theatre.

It would be easy to criticize the old band room, where the hands on the clock always read five minutes after 5, where student lockers and instrument cases vied with the audience for space, where 60 people made a standing room-only audience and the only air-conditioning was an anemic box fan sitting in an open doorway.

But …

There was something special about being so close to the band that you could watch them sweat, where ex-students in the audience felt free to come down and jam with the band, and the director and musicians chatted with audience members. It evoked memories of similar magical evenings spent sitting in tiny jazz joints on hot Kansas City summer nights listening to the greats perform.

They said they “wanted to leave the building with a bang,” and they did, performing what White called his favorite pieces from his 19-year tenure.

The wind ensemble performance

The first part of the program consisted of the wind ensemble performing four pieces: “Imaginarium” by Randall Standridge, “Blessed Are They” by Johannes Brahms. “Wind Sprints” by Richard Saucedo, and “Aquatica” by Scott Watson.

The wind ensemble had only been rehearsing since the second week of April, according to Megan Hennings, music program assistant. Yet, in the opening piece, “Imaginarium,” the brass, xylophone and glockenspiel, drums and saxophones maintained so delicate a balance of sound that the voice of each and every instrument could be clearly heard.

And while the so-called “updated” version of Brahms’ “Blessed Are They” proved that some pieces cannot be improved upon, the intrepretation and performance were very good.

“Wind Sprints” lived up to its name, calling to mind the score of Chuck Jones’ Academy Award-winning 1965 animated cartoon, “The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics,” while “Aquatica” felt like a tone poem of one day at a beachfront resort like Brighton Beach.

And all that jazz

During a brief intermission, the musicians re-arranged their seating arrangements and became a jazz band. Then they launched into a performance of John Luebke’s “San Miguel” that would have made Herb Alpert proud. The group followed this with “Reality” by Josiah Savage (a student), “The Razor’s Edge” by Dave Holland, “The Incredibles by Michael Giacchino, “Feeling Good” vocal by Matt Amy, “Hiya” by Mica Andren, and “Tank!” by Yoko Kanno.

The performance of the overture to “The Incredibles” sparkled and popped and “Feeling Good” added a humorous note to the evening. “Reality” was remarkably accomplished.

The evening came to an end with a rousing rendition of “Tanked” from the popular anime series “Cowboy Bebop.”

And then it was over. There was no curtain to come down. And the clock on the wall still said it was five minutes after 5.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for the Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.