|Stetson Jazz Ensemble set up in Kenton formation!|
A towering success was the spring concert from Stetson's Jazz Ensemble, "A Tribute to Stan Kenton". Kudos both to the students and conductor Don Waldrop for pulling off with grace and aplomb what easily could have been a jumbled mess with other young bands. The ballads ("Yesterdays", "Here's That Rainy Day" & "My Old Flame") were nothing short of mesmerizing; a special nod to the trombone section who had wonderful balance for the whole show, with remarkable pianissimos and gorgeous tone. The entire ensemble glistened and blared in all the right places. The trumpet section enjoyed the presence of guest performer Jack Nedorostek, nailing the insane high notes, and treating us all to a soaring rendition of Maynard Ferguson's "Maria".
Maestro Waldrop called up his wife for a sweet & memorable moment; the conductor serenading her with Kenton's comical "You and I and George" with delightfully sombre trombones behind him!
The standout solo from a student came on the popular "Dynaflow" from guitarist Lyndell Vickers, who started a few concerts back already sounding excellent, and continues to progress with fine technique and expanded jazz vocabulary. A well-mic'd Justin Weber on piano also stood out, ease & grace now added to his arsenal. A nice touch were back-to-back numbers featuring Jessica Rice (alto) and Samantha Olek (tpt) who showed marvelous confidence & ample ability. The rhythm section was solid and swingin' thoughout. Capping off the night was a rollicking romp through Kenton's daring "Peanut Vendor", trumpets doing the nasty dissonances justice and leaving the SRO crowd (picture shows about a third of audience) wanting much more. Congrats to Mr. Waldrop and all the band for hands down the best Stetson concert Palm Coast Jazz has witnessed! - PCJ