I live quite a distance from FGCU, so when the opportunity arose to hear two of the Bower School of Music’s ensembles in Cape Coral, I was in. The Jazz Ensemble led by Brandon Robertson and the Symphonic Band led by Troy Jones presented a concert at Ida Baker High School to a disappointingly small audience. With no admission fee, this should have drawn a full house.
A professional jazz musician with a master’s in jazz studies from FSU, Robertson is newly arrived from Tallahassee. He chose “September in the Rain” to begin his group’s section of the afternoon’s program since it has, he related, rained every day in September since he moved here.
His 15 musicians were joined by vocalist Marlina Karimi in the next three songs. Karimi has a mature sound for a college student and a wide range. The band threatened to drown her out periodically, but she held her own.
The final piece in the first half was “Billie’s Bounce” by jazz icon Charlie Parker. It featured solos by pianist Jose Cordero, saxophonist Isaiah Suriel, Trumpeter Andrew Heavener, vibraphonist Sean Stolliker, and bassist Matthew Nevarez.
The Symphonic Band kicked off the second half with “Jubilant Overture” by Alfred Reed, a work that put me in mind of Bernstein’s “Candide Overture.” Back from a sabbatical, Jones provided interesting commentary on each of his selections, all of which he related to joy or triumph.
After the buoyancy of the first number came a more controlled and reflective piece called “Sheltering Sky.” Extra notes added to the chord structure gave a modern slant. The mood changed again into a bombastic work, “Khan” as in Genghis. It evoked Asia from the opening note and featured lots of drums and a gong. One more pivot gave us “Galop,” sort of a frantic polka by Shostakovich.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Information about upcoming concerts is at http://www.fgcu.edu/cas/bsma.