Funk and jazz merge in COM concerts

Posted on: October 23, 2013

Two free upcoming concerts at College of the Mainland will get your toes tapping and fingers snapping.

The COM Jazz Ensemble will channel the sounds of New Orleans and Brazil with selections ranging from the blues to bossa nova, an easygoing jazz style with a Latin flair, on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. in the COM Fine Arts Building Recital Hall.

On Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. the COM 7 O’Clock Jazz Combo will jam to the beat with a guest performance of the New Orleans Funk Band from John H. Reagan High School in Austin.
 
Directed by former COM student Ormide Armstrong, the New Orleans Funk Band performs traditional New Orleans jazz spiced with contemporary funk. The group formed in January 2011 after a former tuba player of the Reagan High School band moved from New Orleans to Austin after Hurricane Katrina and brought his music with him.
 
Recently, the band competed in the Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands and advanced to the finals at the Red Eyed Fly in Austin. The band has become a springboard for students to become professional musicians, and one of its original members now plays in the Boss Street Brass Band.
 
Armstrong writes and arranges most of the band’s tunes.
 
The COM Jazz Ensemble, directed by Sparky Koerner, performs Latin jazz, swing, ballads and contemporary jazz. Last year the group was invited to display their talents at the Jazz Education Network Conference in Atlanta.
 
At the concert, the group will showcase their improvisational skills with classic pieces from “Aaron’s Blues” to the ballad “Easy Living.”
 
“We have an exciting program for that evening that will include a wide variety of jazz styles,” said Sparky Koerner, director of instrumental studies at COM. “‘Gentle Rain’ has a very lovely, singable melody while Wayne Shorter’s ‘One by One’ is a shuffle with a rolling feel to it.”
 
For more information about concerts or the COM music program, call Koerner at 409-933-8347 or visit www.com.edu/music.


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