“Roadtrip” will premiere and showcase two soloists’ instrumental abilities.
By Hannah Norman
The music department will host an annual jazz ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center with a variety of jazz and Latin pieces.
Jazz ensemble students will perform with director Andrew Gignac, music coordinator and professor, as the band’s main trumpeter and music adjunct Stephen Gollihar as pianist.
Gollihar writes an arrangement of music for the ensemble every year.
His compositions depend on the number of students in the ensemble. Jazz bands usually consist of five saxophones, four trombones and four trumpets, but this college has never had a complete ensemble because not enough students apply.
“You get this mish-mash of instruments, so this is written for one flute, one trumpet, one trombone, two alto saxes, one tenor sax … then features the guitar and a synthesizer,” he said.
He has composed a song, “Roadtrip” for one student in particular. Music sophomore Francis Stromboe plays lead guitar and bass for the ensemble.
“Francis has been a guitarist here for a couple of years now, and he’s a very fine electric guitarist — jazz guitarist — and he’s helping us out,” Gollihar said. “We kept saying, ‘Francis, you need to learn how to play bass because you can make more money playing bass than you will ever make playing guitar.’”
In response, Stromboe began taking bass lessons and picked it up fairly quickly, Gollihar said. Now, the jazz band has two bass players. However, since Stromboe has only been playing bass for the band, he hasn’t had the opportunity to play the guitar, his first love.
“The whole purpose is to feature Francis and let him play his guitar. I designed the melody so that it would sit well on the guitar,” Gollihar said. “I am going to play the melody with him on a synthesizer and then these other guitars are gonna play it. We’re going to have all three together.”
He wrote the piece within a week and a half because it’s a very simple tune. It started out as a solo thing for Stromboe, but it morphed into including the synthesizer and the saxophone so Gignac and he could incorporate everyone, Gollihar said.
“Roadtrip” will feature two soloists. It is written for Stromboe on guitar, but also for sophomore music major Nikkei Flores, an alto saxophone player.
Flores began playing alto saxophone since middle school and continued through high school playing in the concert and marching bands. He has played for 12 years and plans to graduate in the spring semester to become a professional musician. He hopes to play for other professional jazz and blues singers.
“I just want to play and play where I can be heard. Every day I practice trying to put as much time as I can into a song,” Flores said.
Even though the new version was passed out at the beginning of November, the band is doing a wonderful job and it has been fun, Gollihar said.
“I’m improvising on two songs, and there’s not as much pressure as the first show we did … I had to improvise a lot more then than now, so it’s less difficult,” Flores said.
“Most of the other tunes are more complicated. Andrew has done a good job rehearsing with the band. The horn section is really coming together,” Gollihar said. “We have two recitals every semester, and we usually save the harder songs for the end.”
The show will feature “Captain Bowlmor” by Frank Mantooth, “Study in Blue” by George Shutack and “Misty” by Erroll Garner and more. “Misty” is a song Gollihar had thrown into the mix to exemplify Gignac’s talent with the trumpet.
Gignac will perform a trumpet solo on “Misty.” It will be a challenging arrangement, but “Misty” will be one of the high points in the show, because everyone knows that song, Gollihar said.
One more rehearsal until tomorrow night’s performance and the pianist is confident in the jazz band’s abilities.
For more information, call Gignac at 210-486-0269.