On February 4, 2023, SOUNDSCAPE Vocal Jazz Ensemble led by Music Professor Michelle Hawkins, performed at the Columbia College Jazz Festival.

The festival is hosted by Columbia College of Sonora, CA and features high school and college groups from around California.

Skyline College’s SOUNDSCAPE Vocal Jazz Ensemble performed a set and participated in a 30-minute workshop with award-winning master educator Curtis Gaesser. Curtis has over 40 years of teaching experience and his groups have consistently won awards for the past 20 years.

Mr. Gaesser offered wonderful feedback for the group, and specifically expressed how impressed he was with the ensemble’s “commitment to the music, joyful and inviting stage presence, and polished diction.”  He even said one of their phrases was, “perfect.” 

Our Vocal Jazz Ensemble students enjoyed a wonderful and educational festival experience.  SOUNDSCAPE student member Elian Fontanilla shared this about the event, “The talent and love for the music was clear, and you could feel that this community of jazz singers was leaving a lasting impression on each other. SOUNDSCAPE was able to come home with colorful new ideas that are sure to make our future performances even richer.”

The Columbia Jazz Festival is part of the Columbia Jazz Artists Series. In addition to the high school and college groups, festival attendees also enjoyed performances from such renowned professional musicians as:

  • Vocalist Kenny Washington who has thrilled San Francisco audiences with his soulful interpretations, seemingly limitless range, and rapid-fire scatting ever since making his home in the Bay Area. Washington has also appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
  • Paul Contos, performing on saxes and flutes, is a master at combining technical wizardry and musical fluidity.
  • Bass Player Clint Day, former director of vocal jazz at UC Berkeley, current teacher of jazz piano and jazz history, and founding member of the Mic Gillette Band.
  • Trombonist Jamie Dubberly who has toured four continents, and over 20 countries. He performed on national and international tours of several Broadway productions, and formed his own band, “Orquesta Dharma”.
  • Mike Rocha, a three-time Grammy-nominated and globally acclaimed trumpeter and composer, has had a robust recording and performance career in Los Angeles including feature films and TV shows. Mike has played and recorded with notable artists such as Christina Aguilera, Bob Dylan, Gwen Stefani, Panic at the Disco, Lorde, and more . . .

In prior years Soundscape performed at festivals and competitions in such diverse locations as Cuesta College, University of Nevada at Reno, Cabrillo College, and the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall in New York City. To see Soundscape Vocal Jazz Ensemble in person plan to attend the Vocal Ensembles Spring Concert at Skyline College on April 30, 2023 – SAVE THE DATE!

Article by Chris Burwell-Woo | Photos by Professor, Michelle Hawkins

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