Friday, September 10, 2021

UNLV Jazz 2021 - Looking Up (September 2021 Vegas Records)

Looking Up, a 2021 Vegas Records CD release, celebrates student achievements of our 2020-2021 UNLV School of Music, Division of Jazz and Commercial Music. Jazz Ensemble I, co-winner of the prestigious 2021 DownBeat Magazine Graduate College Large Ensemble Student Music Award (SMA) and directed by professors Dave Loeb and Nathan Tanouye, launches disc one with the fast-paced Quick Deet, composed by Carlos Mata-Alvarez, jazz faculty and former DownBeat SMA winner during his undergraduate studies at UNLV. It includes spirited solos from saxophonists F J Rodriguez and Joe Schaben, pianist Patrick Hogan and drummer Michael Hoffman. This ensemble won the Monterey Next Generation College Big Band Division and is invited for a command performance in the acclaimed Monterey Jazz Festival. Tones For Joan’s Bones, arranged by Duke Pearson, features jazz trumpet artist Kenny Rampton, UNLV alumni and member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (JALC), directed by Wynton Marsalis, and pianist Hogan, in a tribute to the great jazz pianist and composer, Chick Corea who created this jazz standard.

We dedicate this CD to Corea and the legendary arranger and composer, Sammy Nestico, who both passed away in 2021, and with deep appreciation for the medical workers and first responders around the world who tirelessly fought the COVID-19 battle. Nestico’s gorgeous treatment of the beautiful ballad, Ill Wind, written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, highlights long-time UNLV supporter and jazz vocalist, Laura Taylor. The Jazz Calling, a powerful composition by brilliant jazz bassist, John Clayton, is a springboard for fantastic solos by Ricardo Arana on trumpet, Micah Smith on piano, and Hoffman on drums. The Hustle, an energetic excursion composed by Tanouye, spotlights tenor saxophonist Edward Sarabia and drummer Amy Crosley. 

UNLV hosts a Western Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival annually, in collaboration with the Jazz Outreach Initiative and JALC, but had to postpone this event in 2021 due to the pandemic. Alternately, we produced a virtual performance for the JALC Band Directors Academy with a medley of Duke’s compositions, Such Sweet Thunder, including an authentic plunger trumpet solo by Mr. Rampton and a bass improvisation by Keegan Carter, and Chinoiserie, with marvelous improvisations from pianist Hogan and graduate assistant and associate producer of this project, Brian Lawrence, on tenor sax. Hogan’s swinging version of Adolfu Ultrera and Nilo Menendez’s classic, Green Eyes, provides exciting solos from Hogan on piano, Harrison Collard on trumpet and Schaben on tenor saxophone. Mr. Hogan also shares his original burner, Powerout, giving us passionate improvisations from trombonist Kirby Galbriath and Collard, on trumpet. Lawrence’s innovative orchestration of Joshua Redman’s Herbs and Roots includes captivating solos by the arranger and Sarabia, on tenor saxes, pianist Hogan, and drummer Hoffman.

Claymont, an exceptional composition by Lawrence, offers stellar improvisations from Tanouye, on trombone, and saxophonist Rodriguez. Michael Petrucciani’s upbeat samba, Looking Up, closes disc one with an optimistic musical theme and delightful solos from Smith on piano, Lawrence on flute, and who arranged this ebullient title track, and Collard, on flugelhorn.

Disc two opens with two contrasting selections arranged by Hogan, in the style of the popular Sergio Mendez and Brazil ’66, for Vegas ’22, 2021 DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award-winning Graduate College Latin Jazz Group, that was mentored by faculty advisor Jo Belle Yonely. The Lamp is Low, penned by Peter DePose and Bert Shefter and adapted from a melody by Maurice Ravel , and If Love Is Good to Me, written by Fred Spielman and Redd Evans, provide outstanding vocals by Amanda Ketterer, Kailyn Richards and the ensemble with sparkling piano improvisations by Hogan and display the absolute authenticity of this combo. 

The Vinnie Falcone Organ Quartet, winner of the 2021 DownBeat Magazine Graduate College Asynchronous Small Group SMA and named in honor of the late jazz pianist, Las Vegas resident and former musical director for Frank Sinatra, performs Tippin’ Home From Sunday School, by Oliver Jones, with terrific solos by saxophonist Schaben, guitarist Nick Lee and Lawrence, on organ, who is also the leader of this group. The quartet, mentored by professor Adam Schroeder, also plays Antonio Carlos Jobim’s familiar bossa nova, Triste, arranged by drummer Zach Guzman Mejia, with sensitive improvisations by organist Lawrence, guitarist Lee and Schaben, on sax. The Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by faculty member Uli Geissendoefer, received the 2021 DownBeat Undergraduate College Latin Group Outstanding Performance SMA and please refer to Uli’s comments in this booklet for further information about this group.

The Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, directed by faculty member Julian Tanaka, received the 2021 DownBeat Graduate College Blues/Pop/Rock Group Asynchronous Outstanding Performance SMA, and performs Sing To The Moon, by Laura Mvula and Michelle Willis, with excellent solos by Sarabia, on sax, Arana on trumpet, violinist Goomroyan, trombonist Kirby Galbraith, violinist Aolani Aguirre, bassist Ruben Van-Gundy, Rodriguez, on clarinet who also arranged this tune, Jeymar Perez, on alto sax, and drummer Amy Crosley. The UNLV Jazz Vocal Ensemble, directed by faculty member Kimberly Snavely, that received the DownBeat 2021 Graduate College Asynchronous Small Jazz Vocal Group Outstanding Performance SMA, sings Centerpiece, a masterful composition by Harry Edison and Jon Hendricks and arranged by Kerry Marsh, with an amazing vocal improvisation by graduate student Gary Fowler, who was recognized for an Outstanding Vocal Soloist DownBeat SMA. 

DMA student and bassist, Molly Redfield, led the all-female Geri Allen Tribute Combo, mentored by faculty advisor Yonely, with her interesting arrangement of Moonglow, written by Will Hudson, Irving Mills and Eddie DeLange, that received a DownBeat Graduate College Vocal Arrangement Outstanding Performance SMA, and includes heartfelt solos by Lara Vivian Smith on keyboard and vocals, guitarist Jesse Rosenberg, Crosley on drums, and vocalist Patricia Thomas. Our Honors Trio, Hogan on piano, bassist Van-Gundy and drummer Hoffman is a two time winner in the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival College Combo Division, made a guest appearance at the 2021 Jazz Education Conference Experience and is invited for a repeat performance in the Monterey Jazz Festival. The trio performs Hogan's, You Are The Only Girl, with a lovely vocal and piano solo by the composer, and Speak Low, written by Kurt Weil, with sizzling improvisations from pianist Hogan, bassist Van-Gundy and Hoffman, on drums.

We close disc two with a poignant duet by Hogan, on piano, and vocalist Fowler, in a tribute to the late Joe Williams, one of the most revered vocalists in jazz history, with Here’s To Life, written by Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary, and thank the Joe Williams Every Day Foundation for their generosity in awarding significant annual scholarships to our deserving students.

UNLV Division of Jazz and Commercial students garnered a remarkable nine 2021 DownBeat Student Music Awards, considered among the highest recognitions in jazz education worldwide, with a total of 33 since 2010! Dorian Dream, our 2020 CD release, received an outstanding review from JazzTimes magazine and our UNLV jazz program has enjoyed wonderful acknowledgements from this widely respected jazz publication for 12 consecutive years. We applaud our students’ efforts in creating inspiring asynchronous virtual performances and recordings this year, considering the immense challenges presented during the pandemic quarantine.

In addition, we extend sincere gratitude to our faculty, Chuck Foley and our recording studio staff and dedicated students for their resilience in utilizing available audio and video technology, contributing to a meaningful musical experience during this difficult time, and also thank Louis Kavouras, Chair of the UNLV Department of Dance, for his cover art work. David Weiller, who chaired the UNLV Choral Department for 37 years and led the Las Vegas Master Singers in a memorable collaboration with our Jazz Division for a performance of Ellington’s Sacred Concert, is retiring this year and we also dedicate this project to him in recognition of his distinguished service to UNLV.

We also wish to thank our many donors and benefactors, through Friends of UNLV Jazz, who have helped generate additional funding to assist in further educational activities for our students. Our students continue to teach at prominent universities internationally, perform in established venues in Las Vegas and around the world and inspire us with their incessant creative passion to reach our highest artistic potential. We are incredibly proud of their commitment and spectacular accomplishments!

Dave Loeb
Director of the Division of Jazz and Commercial Music
UNLV School of Music

1. Quick Deet 04:30
2. Tones for Joan's Bones 05:41
3. Ill Wind 04:16
4. The Lamp is Low 08:39
5. THe Hustle 05:18
6. Such Sweet Thunder 03:08
7. Chinosiorie 05:35
8. Green Eyes 03:18
9. Powerout 05:23
10. Herbs and Roots 07:55
11. Claymont 06:45
12. Looking Up 08:15
13. The Lamp is Low 02:19
14. If Love is Good to Me 02:50
15. Tippin' Home form School 04:33
16. Triste 08:07
17. Madiba 05:16
18. Vera Cruz 04:57
19. Sing to the Moon 07:02
20. Centerpiece 05:25
21. Moonglow 04:18
22. You Are the Only Girl 04:54
23. Speak Low 08:08
24. Here's to Life 04:47

2021 UNLV CD Looking Up Personnel List

Jazz Ensemble I
● Directors:
○ Dave Loeb
○ Nathan Tanouye
● Saxophones:
○ F J Rodriguez
○ Jeymar Perez-Mendoza-fall 2019 or spring 2020
○ Joe Schaben
○ Brian Lawrence
○ Eddy Sarabia
○ Robert Mitchell
○ Max Marquis-fall 2019 or spring 2020
● Trombones:
○ Giovanni Lacala
○ Zach Guzman Mejia
○ Nathan Russell
○ Kirby Galbraith
○ Scott Odou
● French Horns:
○ Casey Davis
○ Hannah Johnson
● Violin:
○ Lauren Cordell
● Trumpets:
○ Dan Foster
○ Kurt Tumbagahan
○ Casey Bibiano-fall 2020
○ Harrison Collard
○ Ricardo Arana
○ Aries Harper
● Rhythm Section:
○ Keegan Carter
○ Marshall Peterson
○ Ruben Van-Gundy
○ Patrick Hogan
○ Micah Smith
○ Nick Bentz fall 2019 or spring 2020
○ Amy Crosley
○ Zach Guzman Mejia
○ Michael Hoffman-fall 2020
○ Jesse Rosenberg
○ Nick Lee-fall 2020

Vegas ‘22
● Amanda Ketterer - Vocal
● Kailyn Richards - Vocal
● Patrick Hogan - Piano
● Ruben Van-Gundy - Bass
● Amy Crosley - Drums
● Zach Guzman Mejia - Percussion

Vinnie Falcone Organ Quartet
● Joe Schaben - Tenor Saxophone
● Nick Lee - Guitar
● Brian Lawrence - Organ
● Zach Guzman Mejia - Drums

Latin Jazz Ensemble
● Uli Geissendoerfer - Director
● Jose Pepe Jimenez - Director Spring 21
● Kailyn Richards - Vocals
● Peter Goomroyan - Violin Fall 20
● Lauren Cordell - Violin Spring 21
● Aries Harper - Trumpet
● Nathan Russell - Trombone
● Jeymar Perez-Mendoza - Alto Saxophone
● Eddy Sarabia - Tenor Saxophone
● Micah Smith - Piano
● Andrew Garcia - Guitar
● Ondrej Suska - Guitar Spring 21
● Marshall Peterson - Bass
● Michael Hoffman - Drums Fall 20
● Amy Crosley - Drums, Vibraphone & Percussion
● Zach Guzman Mejia - Percussion

Contemporary Jazz Ensemble
● Julian Tanaka - Director
● Amanda Ketterer - Vocals
● Peter Goomroyan - Violin
● Aolani Aguirre - Violin
● F J Rodriguez - Clarinet
● Jeymar Perez-Mendoza - Alto Saxophone
● Eddy Sarabia - Tenor Saxophone
● Ricardo Arana - Flugelhorn, Trumpet
● Kirby Galbraith - Trombone
● Caleb Clark - Piano
● Ruben Van-Gundy - Bass
● Amy Crosley - Drum Set
Jazz Vocal Ensemble
● Kimberly Snavely - Director
● Lara Vivian Smith - Soprano
● Shaddai Johnson - Soprano
● Patricia Thomas - Alto
● Rachel Gamberg - Alto
● Gary Fowler - Tenor
● Gibson Eckstine-Green - Bass
● Caleb Clark - Piano
● Ruben Van-Gundy - Bass
● Robert Shipley - Drums

Geri Allen Ensemble
● Molly Redfield - Bass
● Jesse Rosenberg - Guitar
● Amy Crosley - Drum Set
● Lara Vivian Smith - Vocals, Piano
● Patricia Thomas - Vocals

Honors Trio
● Patrick Hogan - Piano/Vocals
● Ruben Van-Gundy - Bass
● Michael Hoffman - Drums

Joe Williams Ensemble
● Gary Fowler - Vocals
● Patrick Hogan - Piano