Delta gets jazzy with annual festival

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JAZZ FESTIVAL: The Pacific Mambo Orchestra, originally from San Francisco, brings the crowd to its feet. PHOTO BY ROBERT JUAREZ

On Dec. 6, jazz bands from middle schools to the college level were on hand at Delta College for the 15th annual Delta Jazz Festival.

The Holt Building was packed with musicians lugging instruments from the flute to the electric guitar, followed by supportive parents and relatives.

JAZZ FESTIVAL: The Pacific Mambo Orchestra, originally from San Francisco, brings the crowd to its feet. PHOTO BY ROBERT JUAREZ
JAZZ FESTIVAL: The Pacific Mambo Orchestra, originally from San Francisco, brings the crowd to its feet. PHOTO BY ROBERT JUAREZ

The festival was a one-day event, but preparations started months ago.

This is especially true for Brian Kendrick and his team who put the event together.

Kendrick is the professor of jazz studies and has been running the Delta Jazz Festival for the past 10 years.

Kendrick’s passion for jazz music and the festival showed.

When asked what makes jazz distinct from other forms of music, with- out a slightest hesitation Kendrick answered: “improvisation” and “self expression.”

“Improvisation is the heart of jazz,” said Kendrick, gleefully.

He went on to say the beauty of jazz is that musicians can “shape their own sound.”

With hundreds of musical students performing, Kendrick was asked what students can take from the festival experience to assist them in their growth as musicians.

Kendrick said students get a better sense of the work ethic and also valu- able feedback from some of the older, experienced musicians.

More than 50 bands participate. Performance venues varied from the Tillie Lewis Studio and Theatre to the Muller Studio Theatre and the Warren Atherton Auditorium.

The bands competed throughout the day for awards.

There were a variety of winners for an estimated two-dozen awards but bands from Folsom were called to the stage the most.

The awards ceremony ended the day for the young musicians, however, there was still one more performance.
The grand finale was the performance of the 2014 Grammy winning Latin jazz big band, The Pacific Mambo Orchestra.

Prior to their performance, band leaders Christian Tumalan and Steffen Kuehn answered a few questions.

When asked if they believed any aspiring musician from Delta had a realistic chance of making it in music Tumalan quickly answered: “100 percent.”

Tumalan went on to say in order for students from Delta or Stockton in general to make it, they “need to be committed 100 percent.”

Tumalan and Kuehn have the his- tory to back it up considering both originated from small villages with nothing around, one from Mexico and the other from Germany.

“Odds were stacked against me,” said Kuehn.

Tumalan and Kuehn have come a long way and the talent showed as the band sent the audience home happy later that night with an exciting performance that turned the auditorium into a dance party.

The Pacific Mambo Orchestra did its part in ending the festival on a high note.