Vocal ensemble is all that JAZZ

Bryce Fraser


Photo Credit: Bryce Fraser
From left: Jessica Dacpano, Maryam Mirbagheri and Jonathan Blum of the advanced American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble performing at a concert in the American River College campus theater on March 14.

March 21, 2012

The American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble accompanied by the Natomas Charter Vocal Ensemble, filled the room with the sound of jazz with a dash of a surprisingly Latin flavor on March 13.
The audience was a mixture of people attending the concert for normal reasons and some that were a part of the jazz history class. The ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble was directed by Dr. Art Lapierre and was made up of the beginning vocal jazz ensemble and the advanced vocal jazz ensemble.
“I always love the Vocal Jazz Ensemble; they’re always a good time and it is cool because there are always new faces in the beginning ensemble that you know and you probably have friends up there that you don’t even realize until you go,” said Valerie Dickenson, an audience member who came to see the show.
The ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble has won many awards, including being voted Best Jazz Group by Sacramento Magazine in 2010. Singing with the ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble was the Natomas Charter Jazz Ensemble. The director, Jacosa Limutau, used to go to ARC and was Lapierre’s student. She said she loves working with the ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and that Lapierre was her teacher for many years and that she learned a lot from him.
“The advanced ensemble had a bossa-nova feel,” is what Lapierre had to say about the night’s concert. Lapierre has been directing the ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble and said the reason for the Latin-sounding jazz is because the current ensemble is recording a Latin-style CD that will be available on their website ic.arc.losrios.edu/~vocaljazz/.
Alto singer Maryam Mirbagheri of the advanced ensemble came all the way from Persia and decided to go to ARC because of videos of the ensemble she watched on YouTube. “I knew every single one of the members before I moved and I knew Lapierre. I knew everybody and it freaks them out when I tell them.” She also said, “The main reason why I moved to Sacramento was for Lapierre.”
Advanced ensemble soprano singer Jessica Dacpano said the night’s concert went well and it was good preparation for the main goal in attending the Monterey Jazz Festival. The Monterey Jazz Festival is an event that will have around three thousand musicians. The ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble will be competing against ensembles from different universities. The Monterey Jazz Festival will be held at the Monterey Fairgrounds on September 21-23, 2012.The ARC Vocal Jazz Ensemble will perform its end-of-the-year concert at ARC on May 9 at the American River College campus theater.


311 dials in an indecent performance


Photo Credit: Bryce Fraser/ARCurrent.com
311 lead singer Nick Hexum reaches out to a sold-out crowd on March 7 but fails to connect.

Mark Lewis, Arcurrent
March 15, 2012


The alternative funk rock band, 311 (pronounced three-eleven), played Sacramento’s Ace of Spades on March 7 to a sold-out crowd spending a mere 90 minutes performing a 23-song set that was an “ugly disaster,” to put it in terms that 311’s aging fan base can easily identify with.

The five-member band formed in 1988 in the heart of the mid-west; Omaha, Neb. After releasing demos and hammering out a sound that infused hard punk rock with reggae and funk, 311 released their self-titled album in 1995 that produced three hugely successful singles compelling 3 million people to purchase the record that put 311 in the coveted amber spotlight cast by instantaneous fame.

The band’s second song of the evening, “Prisoner,” summed up the evening for me as I navigated the smoke-filled club anxiously waiting to hear at least one of my favorite songs.
Is that too much to ask from a band that has a combined 23 albums and DVDs (the sum of which have sold over 8.5 million units in the United States)?

Past performances from 311, comprised of vocalist Nick Hexum, rapper/disc jockey S.A. Martinez, bassist P-Nut, guitarist Tim Mahoney and drummer Chad Sexton, have all been head-bangingly energetic and engaging.
This particular evening, Hexum and company choked out a concert that was uninspired and just “Plain” (a cut off of 1993’s album “Music”).

All right, now that’s enough of using their song titles as adjectives for the purpose of this critique, I promise.

Do realize though that with the exception of a couple of crowd-pleasers, every other song performed this evening was recorded pre-1995 when 311 was just a band earning college credits by winning over young adults who really enjoyed their “Grassroots” (Damn, there I go again. Or wait – they didn’t play “Grassroots” so I get a pass).
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