Jamestown Community College celebrated the sounds of jazz Tuesday evening with the annual JCC Jazz Fest, on the stage of the Robert L. Scharmann Theater.
Performing this year, before a nearly filled auditorium, were three Jazz Ensembles from the State University of New York at Fredonia, a program under the leadership of Bruce Johnstone.
The evening ranged widely through the stylings and sounds of jazz. The first and third were larger, each having approximately 20 members. Both groups had piano, bass, guitar and drums, but there the similarity ended.
The opening ensemble was largely brass in nature, while the closing one was largely made up of traditional strings.
Amid this very meaty sandwich was a small, quintet, which played music in the style of French Gypsy music, which is often associated with early 20th century guitarist Django Reinhardt. Naturally, the guitar was a prominent sound in their mix, but the focal instruments were violin and accordian.
The trouble with reviewing jazz concerts is that they are often performed without printed programs. This means that the reviewer doesn't have any of the performers' names, the names of composers or arrangers, or pieces of music, and other information which goes into other styles of reviews. Much of that information was presented aloud from the stage, of course, and I sincerely tried to write it all down in the dark of the audience, but I fear the pages of my notebook look as though they were run across by someone in work boots. I'm sorry not to be able to name some of the fine soloists from the evening, including a sultry singer who, we we're told, came from Long Island.
Johnstone himself performed occasionally with the two larger groups, usually on saxophones of various registrations, and on flute. He reported that he had composed several of the works they performed, and occasionally one recognized something such as Leonard Bernstein's jangly ''Cool'' from ''West Side Story,'' or a work by Kurt Weill or even ''Take the A-Train.'' Occasionally he would describe a piece as something he had played with Maynard Ferguson, or some such tag which gave it particular resonance for the audience.
The most impressive thing to me was the outstanding musicianship demonstrated throughout. Pitches were usually precise, attacks were sharp, and the evening's artistry was solid.
The groups relied very heavily on amplification, and there were some difficulties with that, throughout the evening. The few false notes I did hear may actually have been problems with amps.
In all, it was a very appealing and impressive showing. The annual festival is sponsored by the music department of the community college, and by the Faculty Student Organization.