Sierra College Vocal Jazz
Vocal Jazz Recital - November 21, 2014
by Nancy Bramlett
“The show must go on” is such a cliché, but so apropos. I was immediately impressed as the singers lined up without songbooks. Memorized music allows for more expression, interaction, and tighter harmonies. This takes a considerable amount of extra work and promised to make the performance much more impressive. An extensive setup of microphones was in place, with one for each singer. But the microphones did not work. They tried and tried to get them going, but nothing could be done, so the show had to go on. The singers were troopers. Even though they had prepared for microphones, they reached down to their diaphragms to project for their standing-room-only crowd. It can be quite difficult to project for that large a crowd when you have not been preparing for that scenario.
You can find the program here.
The concert proceeded in three parts. Vocal Jazz is a non-auditioned group of 16. There were nine women and six men. They sang three songs accompanied by a superb trio with Greg McLaughlin on piano, Brett Cole on the upright bass and Nate McQueen on the drums. Meghan Trask kicked off the first song well, “For Elizabeth,” with an a cappella solo. The group had a smooth and warm blend with superior balance. The diction and pronunciation were perfect so that the audience could understand every word. “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring” was a poignant melody about two sweethearts together forever. “We've Got a World That Swings” was a fun song that has been recorded by The Four Freshman, Jerry Lewis and Mel Torme. The group really grooved on this one with fabulous dynamics that added great depth to the performance.
Then three lucky soloists had the privilege of “singing with the band.” Meghan Trask gave us her rendition of “Summer Samba,” then Eric Dickinson tricked us and changed to “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot (a song I personally love). Winding up the set was Bailey Walatka, whose smooth and clear voice had fun with “Early Autumn.”
Next, Jazz Voices took the stage. Jazz Voices is an auditioned choir of 11 singers, 5 women and 6 men. All their songs are performed a cappella. They travel to and compete in a number of festivals. They spend many hours honing the songs, getting the harmonies to blend just right. They started with “Scarborough Fair,” then had fun using their voices as instruments in the tight harmonies of “Uniquity Road,” shared a unique version of “Anything Goes,” and waxed poetic with a beautiful setting of e.e. cummings' poem in “Love is Thicker Than Forget.”
And for the finale “Brand New Day” was incredible! Kellyn Stephens did a super job on the solo and (wow!) Mitch Wersky was fabulous with his vocal percussion! The perfect ending.
(For upcoming concerts of Sierra College's Dept. of Music, check the Placer Performance Calendar at this link.)
Nancy Bramlett is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano from Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. She has most recently studied with Marla Volovna in San Francisco and Zoila Munoz in Davis. Nancy has had the honor of traveling all over the US and to Europe with the Bradley University Chorale. She has sung in several choirs since then, as well as performing in opera and musical theater productions and singing solos for local churches, as well as weddings and memorial services. Nancy has directed choirs; taught voice, piano and Kindermusik; and has been a music director for musical theater. She is currently busy with Classical Music for Christ and as a regular soloist for Cottage Way Christian Church in Sacramento and the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Nancy resides in Rocklin with her husband Scott and three sons: Patrick, Riley and John.