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Jazz trio gives raucous performance

Concert Hour. (Telescope Staff/The Telescope)

A musician grasped two trumpets, one in each hand.

Gilbert Castellanos sounded an unconventional, raucous jazz solo alternating between frugal horn and trumpet during the weekly Concert Hour Sept. 4 at the campus theater.

“Eighty percent of that was improvisation, the double trumpet thing is just something I have been playing around with,” Castellanos said.

This ambidextrous spectacle reverberated throughout the spacious woody interior of the Howard Brubeck Theatre behind the accompaniment of a full-bodied, Italian flat back bass violin of Gunner Biggs and speedy, hard-hitting jazz-blues strums, plucks and pokes of Peter Sprague’s double-headed guitar.

These veteran musicians kept it hip with their button down shirts, denim pants and leather shoes. It seemed that much of that style came from keeping a young ambiance around them and it was a contagious feeling that these men gave to the crowded theater.

The crowd was filled with an assortment of listeners. Some were students, but more were beyond their college years.

That included a pair of women dolled up with flowers adorning the tops of their ears. Karen Floyd, 73, said she has been a regular at many of the men’s performances.

“We love their music,” she said after the show. “They’re just incredible musicians.”

The music in the concert hour contained the traditional jazz standard of play, with some earthy blues dispersed into the mix. In one instance, Sprague showcased his skill and ingenuity with the double-headed guitar looping over around six tracks. Sprague’s feet bounced up and down with his half shoe, half sandal footwear.

In that same song, the track contained the beat of percussion slapping the base of the guitar, overlapping a prickly staccato, continuing to a soulful solo where his fingers were nothing but a blur. Sprague closed his eyes and grinned slightly, with a furrowed brow of a man truly entwined with his music.

Changing the voice of the guitar to a pleasantly flowing flute, Sprague put some tasty guitar licks in the last tracks to build momentum with sounds that became maddeningly complicated. When the audience was ready to lose their minds from the sound, he diminished to one tune.

The trio imploded into an abrupt stab and parry jam, knowing exactly when to stop and allow the other to take over.

It ended with a standing ovation and smiles all around.

A seemingly essential component was missing: percussion. Sprague said they didn’t have the money to bring one but Biggs took on the role of the heartbeat in this trio.

When Biggs played his large Italian flat back he would make mouth movements beat-bopping to his own rhythm, bouncing blues and pushing forward Sprague’s jumpy movement and melody. At times, he would expose his bow to the strings and create a bellowing sound that was rich, warm and deep. His instrument was his trunk and his fingers sprouted the full-bodied bass branches.

“I have only taught or played music, I was a busboy one night and they fired me,” Biggs said.

The result of their aspirations in life for music gave the crowd at Concert Hour a fresh experience of sound and perhaps a greater appreciation for Jazz.

The musicians said they had put time, dedication and life into their music.


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Jazz trio gives raucous performance