Jazz recital kicks off the spring season


On your Que: (from left) Nadia Aponte, George Loulakis, Manuel Martinez and Aaron Robinson Almanzan take the stage after intermission. Photo credit: Daniel Suarez Jr.

Daniel Suarez Jr., Staff Writer

From inside the dimly lit room, an all too familiar tune emanated from the stringed instruments. They played a rendition of “Pure Imagination” originally written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

Students gathered into a studio of the Burnight Center on Feb. 26, preparing to hear from jazz guitarist George Loulakis, and bassist Aaron Robinson Almanzan, whom are both part of the Cerritos College Applied Music Program.

The concert was the second of 13 recitals announced for the Spring 2020 season. Loulakis and Robinson each chose three songs for the set-list, starting with the classic from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

“What’s a piece that everyone would know and love and can trigger something emotional?,” says Loulakis, “I thought, ‘I really love that song from Willy Wonka’ and it was decided.”

His following two selections were “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” by Burt Bachrach and “There Will Never Be Another You” by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon.

The two musicians played unassisted for the first half, with Loulakis switching between acoustic and electric guitar. Aaron Robinson Almanzan played on an electric bass.

After a brief intermission, the performers returned with more assistance from pianist Nadia Aponte and flutist Manuel Martinez. Together, this ensemble played Robinson Almanzan’s selections, starting with “Boplicity” by legendary jazz trumpeter and composer, Miles Davis.

“I remember hearing ‘Boplicity’ for the first time and I liked it so much I tried learning the melody.” said Robinson Almanzan.

His other selections were Joy Spring by Clifford Brown and Inutil Paisagem from Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Aaron Robinson Almanzan started his musical career playing piano and clarinet in middle school, before picking up the base guitar in high school and into college.

“I actually started playing rock and roll and I started getting into more theory as I got older and started to appreciate jazz more,” says Almanzan.

His selections were a some of his favorite to listen to, which is says is why he really wanted to play them.

“There’s always room to grow in Jazz. I feel like I can spend the rest of my life playing it,” said Loulakis.

Jazz, as defined by Oxford Dictionary, is a type of music of black-American origin, making its explosive rise to popularity in the early 20th century. Jazz musicians typically use instruments of the brass and woodwind groups (i.e. trombone, saxophone).

It was a shared passion for Jazz that drew them to studying the genre in college.

Loulakis is instructed by guitarist Michael Higgins, and Robinson Almazan is instructed by Martin Torres.

There are two more concerts in the month of March. The Piano Ensemble Concert is on Monday, Mar. 9 at 9:30 a.m. in BC-51, and the Jazz Exchange Concert is on Wednesday, Mar. 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the student center stage on campus.

Admission to both shows is free.