Mother Nature was kind to the Festival this weekend. Thunderstorms were predicted but there was only one close call. So, though many were sweltering, it was a wonderful day to listen to good music. Sunday featured many jazz ensembles.
The Columbia Jazz Band is a non-profit group made up of 30 members and under the direction of Peter C. BarenBregge. The members work at “regular” jobs but their love of music and exceptional talent has created this jazz group. They have played all over the local area and, really, all over the world.
Their music is mostly swing and what we call today, pop. After opening with “The Theme from MASH” their vocalist, Matt Williams, sang “A Foggy Day” and the Drifters’ “Save the Last Dance for Me” among others. Some of the rhythms were Latin and some were swing. The highlights were Sonny Bono’s “I Got You Babe” done as a jazz song instead of hard rock, and Benny Goodman’s “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”
Later on I caught the Navy’s Commodores, a premiere jazz ensemble under the leadership of Cpt. Brian O. Walden. Due to a late start and looming storm clouds, I only heard a bit. I will definitely try to catch them again if they are in the area and highly recommend them to you from just the two pieces I heard.
Finally, closing the Festival was The Glenelg Jazz Band. Sadly, this was the performance for their highly respected band director of 41 years, Barry Enzman. The director of this wonderful group made up of high school students is retiring. The band has also performed all over the metro area and even in Europe. They have performed with the Count Basie Orchestra and with Maynard Ferguson. The music is mostly progressive jazz a la Dave Brubeck. However, they also did the song from Roar of the Greasepaint called “You Know How I Feel” with a terrific vocal accompaniment from one of the students. They also did some Stevie Wonder, the final planned number “Final Star.”
In that last rendition Enzman did an incredible flute solo showing off his own talent to perform jazz. They did an encore as the huge crowd which included alumni, parents and other well wishers would not have allowed otherwise. As they played “Hey Jude” by Lennon and McCartney, many alumni of the band grabbed their instruments to play one more time with their former director. Toward the end the crowd rose and clapped in unison to pay tribute to the work Enzman has done for four decades. You forget as you listen to the Glenelg Jazz Band that the members have not yet graduated from high school.
If you did not get this weekend this are two weeks of wonderful performances ahead.
Columbia Festival of the Arts Part 1: Opening Night at the Lakefront.
Columbia Festival of the Arts: Part 2: Day Two at the Lakefront.