Return of the ‘big battle’

After a one-year break, the Citrus College Blue Note Swing Orchestra and Azusa Pacific University’s Jazz Ensemble are back for more competitive performance.

The Battle of the Big Bands is returning for it’s twelfth performance on March 17 and 18 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center.

Blue Note Swing Orchestra instructor and both Citrus and APU alumnus, Gino Munoz, performed in the first Battle of the Big Bands when Dean of Fine and Performing Arts, Robert Slack, first directed it in 2002.

“Bob Slack was the original director and as I taught the class, Slack took a break so that I could get adjusted,” Munoz said explaining the recent one-year hiatus.

The Blue Note Swing Orchestra has been rehearsing separately from APU’s Jazz Ensemble since the winter 2016 session after holding auditions in fall 2015.

First year Blue Note Swing Orchestra students like Alec Smith, drummer and music major, and Gayle Jett, singer and music business major, are excited for performing big band jazz music in a competitive manner.

“I’ve been playing the drums for seven to eight years,” Smith said.

“This is a good ensemble to play big band swing music and we play a lot of classic stuff like Count Basie or Frank Sinatra and it’s really fun.”

Smith has freelance performance experience from smaller jazz groups before joining this jazz ensemble, but is not used to the competitive nature of this performance.

For Jett, who has been singing for almost nine years, said the battle between bands is a new experience for her.

She typically performs with the Citrus pop ensemble, Night Shift, and previously performed with Citrus Singers performers.

Jett is a full time student at APU and a part-time student at Citrus, meaning a lot of her colleagues are apart of the APU Jazz Ensemble.

This is a position gives her some insight on the opposing band’s talents.

“Being able to finally see the interaction between us and the other band and how that’s actually going to play out is really exciting,” Jett said.

“Other than that, everything that we’re doing is going really well.”

Jett said there will be entertaining gimmicks and “good exciting music,” to look forward to during the performance.

Smith said the Blue Note Orchestra has been focusing on matching intensity with the APU jazz ensemble.

Both bands had an opportunity to perform together for the first time since rehearsing on March 15.

“There’s a lot of high energy,” Munoz said. “It’s young people performing older traditional music and they do it exceptionally well.”

Munoz said the students are very well trained and the performance has a lot of funny bits for guests to anticipate.

Also returning to perform for most of the performance is Citrus alumna Laura Mace.

“It’s coming back with a vengeance,” Munoz said.

The Battle of the Big Bands featuring jazz music from the 30s and 40s, will start at 8 p.m. on both nights. Presale tickets are $10 for students, $16 for seniors and $18 for general admission, all tickets will be $20 at the door.



Megan is on her second semester as Managing Editor and Ad Manger for the Clarion as well as a contributor for Logos magazine. She has served three consecutive semesters as the editor-in-chief previously for the Clarion and is now focusing on supporting her staff and leaving a substantial foundation for future student journalists at Citrus College. Megan has received a transfer degree in journalism and is finishing a second transfer degree in communications.

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