KCC bands together to benefit students

The sounds of live music wafted through the air at Kukui Grove Center Saturday evening when the Kaua‘i Community College Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band performed a free concert.

The concert was in memory of longtime KCC music director Larry McIntosh, who founded the college’s instrumental-music program in 1985 and passed away from cancer in 2010.

Attendees were asked to make donations to the Larry L. McIntosh Scholarship Association, a non-profit organization that raises scholarship money for college-bound student musicians.

The KCC Jazz Ensemble opened the concert, delivering a high-energy performance complete with seductive horns, sultry vocals and a rock solid beat.

The set opened with “A Night in Tunisia,” a big-band tune Dizzy Gillespie  wrote in 1942.

Under the steady hand of Barry Toy, the ensemble performed a variety of classic and contemporary songs, including the smooth-sounding “The Look of Love” and “Everything,” originally sung by Canadian crooner Michael Buble.

The spotlight shone brightly on featured soloist Peggy Lake, who has lent her voice to the Jazz Ensemble for the past four years.

Lake, who was a good friend and neighbor of McIntosh, said he was a musical inspiration who challenged his students while letting them grow.

The ensemble continued to perform a wide variety of instrumental tunes, including the swing song “Bernie’s Tune” and the modern jazz composition “Spain” by Chick Corea.

Instrumental soloists were featured in each piece, showcasing their talents to an audience of nearly 100 people.

During a short intermission, Will Ronaldson of the Larry L. McIntosh Scholarship Association awarded violinist Kaitlin Maka Viernes and trombonist Heidi Murakami with scholarships to further their musical careers in college.

The evening concluded with the KCC Concert Band, under the hand of Director Sarah Tochiki.

Similar to the Jazz Ensemble, the Concert Band performed with a high level of energy, seamlessly weaving a program together that reached all ends of the music spectrum.

The Concert Band opened with the theme of “Star Wars,” which drew a few chuckles from the audience, before launching into a medley of Rogers and Hammerstein compositions, which included selections from “The King and I,” “South Pacific” and “Oklahoma.”

An original composition, titled “Fusion,” blended rock, jazz, funk and every other genre under the sun, which showcased the range of the musicians.

The band also performed the whimsical opening track from the film “Up” and concluded with “National Emblem,” a marching band composition.

“A march shows that you are a true musician,” Tochiki said to the audience. “You put a lot of work to make it sound exciting, fresh and new.”

Tochiki also said that McIntosh was an “inspirational and cool person” who tirelessly worked to create a thriving musical program on the island.

Nina Saraos, who directs the KCC Orchestra Band, said was a student of McIntosh from the seventh grade up until she graduated from high school.

“He was the ultimate teacher and ultimate mentor.”

The KCC Jazz Band will be performing at the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a Taste of Hawai‘i, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 5, at Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Wailua.

Visit www.tasteofhawaii.com to purchase tickets for Taste of Hawai‘i.

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