John Grant, Arts Reporter
Humber music students outlined the evolution of music from Africa now infused with the music heard today in a powerful showcase of vocals and percussion.
“We all came from the same place,” said Humber’s drum teacher Steve Mancuso at the March 6 show at the Humber Lakeshore campus Auditorium. “If you go right to the beginning, you’ll realize we’re all the same.”
“Learn your roots and go to the source,” he said. “You’ll respect the music. You’ll respect the lineage of the music. it’ll bring more to you as an artist as a musician and as a performer.”
The night was much more than simple melodies.
The 12-person Vocal Jazz Ensemble led by Lisa Martinelli, the college’s Head of the Vocal Jazz Department, demonstrated early the diversity in sound that would be heard during the night.
The Ensemble sang eight songs that lured in the audience with their diverse group of singers on stage. These singers comprised of Caitlin Gyorgy, Micaela Tyson, Leah Holtom, Adina Vlasxo, Rachel Bobbitt, Tarik Henry, and Ethan Jones.
These seven singers, backed by five musicians, had distinct tones in their voices that blended in effortlessly when harmonizing and singing together. Each singer had moments of brilliance with solos when they were allowed to shine with their vocals.
Songs they sang like I Adore You by Esperanza Spalding, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Manning Sherwin and Eric Maschwitz, and Love Makes the World Go Around by John Hendricks highlighted those beautiful moments.
Fourth-year student and tenor Tarik Henry is in his final year and has sung on that Lakeshore stage various times. His love for singing has transcended beyond boundaries and emotions.
“Music takes me to the safest place, in my mind, my safe place,” Henry said.
“I feel like I’m able to influence and give the audience and lead them into an experience where they can come along into that place of serenity that place of peacefulness that place of just love,” he said.
However, the night transitioned into something far from jazz and implemented elements of other cultures to join a different and unique experience.
The World Drumming Ensemble performed four styles of percussion that night, including were Kpanlogo from Ghana, Capoeira and Samba from Brazil, and Guine Fare from Guinea. The unexpected change of culture added a multitude of sounds.
A special moment on that night had first-year drum student Roshane Wright playing his bongo drums and engaged the audience. His drums sang as they echoed into the auditorium, cementing powerful sounds that radiated throughout.
“I want them to feel what I feel on stage and feel the good vibes that I feel up there, and they did. It was just lovely playing for all of them, and the feedback was excellent,” Wright said.
He came to Canada two years ago, and because of music, he was able to share his drumming style that he learned while he was in Jamaica.
“I was in Jamaica didn’t even know I’d be here a year ago and then I’m here,” Wright said. “Now music is taking me to a lot of places that I’ve never even expected.”
The last group, Humber World Jazz Lab, kept up the focus on multiculturalism that was started by the World Drumming Ensemble.
The two groups after the Vocal Jazz Ensemble had to also sing in different languages. They were performing songs from languages they never spoke.
First-year student and vocalist Kate Ulster said she felt the struggle of learning these languages.
“I’ve only ever learned one other language. I sort of know French, but this was completely new to me. I’ve never like learning any language from that part of the world,” Ulster said.
“Yeah, so that was definitely a challenge, so we have to work extra hard to be able to, like, you know, sing, not memorize it because it’s not doesn’t come natural,” she said.
Regardless of her struggle, the Humber World Jazz Lab delivered an upbeat performance, which ended the night with the room being filled with joyous emotions from the uplifting tempo displayed.