DVC Jazz Ensemble Shares the Stage With California Jazz Conservatory


Photo courtesy of DVC website.

The Diablo Valley College Jazz Ensemble performed a mid-semester concert featuring an hour-long swing/big-band set at the school’s Performing Arts Center on Sept. 30. The concert was followed by a guitar-bass-drum trio from the California Jazz Conservatory.

“The audience was very responsive and the band played really well,” said John Maltester, director of the ensemble and music instructor at DVC, speaking after the show. “It’s inspiring all around.”

The all-student ensemble played six songs, with the first half including standards such as “I’m Beginning to See The Light,” written by Duke Ellington, and “I’ll Remember You,” by Chet Baker.

The second half of the set complemented those classics with modern tunes like “South Bay Grease,” which included an “argument,” or two solos being played at the same time between tenor saxophonists Kenyon Kremin and Walter Serwin. “South Bay Grease” and the following song, “Mr. Christlieb, I Presume?”, were written by Jeff Bunnell, a former DVC student of Maltester’s.

Both the students and Maltester appeared to have a sense of humor about their performance throughout the concert. Even during the most intense moments of the night, the performers seemed, above all, to just be having fun. Nearly every student in the 24-piece band had an opportunity to perform a solo during the set.

“I thought the performance went great. I really love the tone that this jazz ensemble has,” said Trey Higgins, a trombonist in the student ensemble. “It’s a great atmosphere. I love how supportive everyone is and the music is really fun.”

The professor trio from the California Jazz Conservatory included Mimi Fox on guitar, Jeff Denson on bass and Gerald Clover on drums. Maltester encouraged audience members to pay attention to musical differences such as song structure, timbre, or dynamics between the big band performance and the much smaller trio.

The next ensemble performance will take place at the DVC Performing Arts Center on Friday, Nov. 18, featuring Dave Eshelman’s Jazz Garden Big Band as the guest performer. Eshelman’s ensemble has been performing in the Bay Area for over four decades.