The sounds of sweet music could be heard the last two weekends at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale.
On Feb. 15, Arturo Sandoval and his Big Band played at the Alex Theatre for a one night only performance. Save the Music 2 was a benefit concert for Arturo Sandoval Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving instrumental music education in public schools and universities worldwide. The performance marked the second year of the institute.
Sandoval is a Grammy Award-winning Cuban jazz trumpet player who has written scores for movies in addition to being a seasoned stage performer.
At the Alex, the show opened with 19 music students from Crescenta Valley, Glendale, Hoover and Calabasas high schools. Though young, their musical acumen was evident as they deftly played favorites that had the audience tapping its feet.
Midway through their set, onto the stage came Sandoval, trumpet to lip, joining in the session. His presence brought an excitement that rolled across the Alex like a tidal wave; the students were up to the task of keeping up with the pro, though, and the audience showed its appreciation in enthusiastic applause.
Following a brief intermission, Sandoval, with his big band, returned to the stage. He was obviously at home at Glendale’s Alex Theatre, joking with the audience and band members between fast paced numbers. Keeping things moving along was Sandoval’s friend and CEO of the institute, Mercy Velazquez.
Highlights of the evening included performances by actor Andy Garcia on the bongos and performances by the Debbie Allen Dance Academy dancers. Perhaps most moving was a presentation to Glendale High School of a new trombone.
The mission of the Sandoval institute is to provide resources to schools that are hard pressed to meet requests for instruments. Elissa Glickman, CEO of Glendale Arts, which manages the Alex Theatre, said that about $60,000 was raised through the concert – money that will go towards providing instruments, scholarships and music education.
Glickman said that the concert was good for everyone.
“We’re pleased to be able to bring this multi-Grammy Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom Award winner to the Alex,” she said. “He’s a high class, grade A performer for the public to enjoy. The added benefit is the institute brings arts education to the community.”
Then swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed to a full house at the Alex on Feb. 22 with the Glendale High School Jazz Band as the special opening act.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played songs from their newest album, “Rattle Them Bones” as well as their classic hits including “Go Daddy-O” and “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby).”
Each band member was able to showcase their skills throughout the set list. Drummer Kurt Sodergren performed a lengthy drum solo that set everyone in the attendance to tapping their feet. Double bass player Dirk Shumaker was spinning his bass around in a flashy style that garnered much applause. The horn section, featuring Andy Rowley, Glen Markheva, Karl Hunter, Anthony Bonsera Jr. and Alex Henderson, were on point throughout the show. The band played tight and harmonized well together.
The Glendale High School Jazz Band opened for BBVD. Led by Amy Rangel, their performance was met with great support and approval from the audience. The high school band performs at many community events and jazz festivals.
Proceeds from the concert went to supporting music and arts programs at Verdugo Woodlands and Franklin Magnet schools and Glendale Unified School District middle and high school band programs.
The concert was part of a day of music events, which started at 1:30 p.m. and featured musical performances by GUSD student orchestras, band and choruses. The schools involved included Rosemont Middle School, Glendale High School, Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School, Franklin Magnet School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School.
The public is invited to the next performance at the Alex, the Glendale Youth Orchestra on March 9 at 7 p.m. There will also be a live presentation of Charles Chaplin’s “The Rink,” with the Glendale Youth Orchestra playing the score of the film, composed by Carl Davis.