Local News

Sunday, Oct 13 2013 09:59 PM

Big band music embraced by retirees

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Carriage House Estates resident Wayne Jett applauds the performance of Big Band era music Sunday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Carriage House Estates residents Corney Cornelius and Marie Yost take to the floor for a dance - which they did several times - during the performance of Big Band music Sunday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Zanne Zarow leads a performance of Big Band era music at Carriage House Estates Sunday night. Zarow and a group of local musicians perform regularly at retirement communities, bringing residents the music of their generation.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Zanne Zarow and band member Ken Bergevin perform for residents of Carriage House Estates Sunday evening. The group routinely performs Big Band era music at retirement communities, bringing residents the music of their generation.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    His instrument at the ready, Ken Bergevin waits to begin performing for the residents of Carriage House Estates Sunday night.

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BY STEVE LEVIN Californian staff writer slevin@bakersfield.com

For an hour Sunday night, somewhere along memory road near the intersection of present day, the residents of Carriage House Estates were transported to a time none of them had forgotten.

Back to a time of dances at the Elks Lodge or Veterans Club or any club from the mid-1930s to the 1960s that played jazz and big band, a time when they were young and the world was big and their lives stretched out ahead.

Related Info

The Mentorship Big Band will play from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Le Corusse Rouge, 4647 White Lane.

Basie, Gershwin, Porter, Ellington, Miller -- old friends had come to visit, courtesy of The Mentorship Big Band, which Sunday night included 10 musicians along with bandleader and vocalist Zanne Zarow.

This was no slapdash group that crammed itself into one end of the main floor's atrium (although three members of the horn section did arrive less than 10 minutes before the first down beat and at least one musician had never played with the band before and truly, the band itself doesn't even have official rehearsals).

Forget that they were listed on the retirement home's daily schedule between Root Beer Floats and Billiards; this was a glitterati gathering.

Zarow, a Bakersfield native who graduated from Highland High School and Cal State Bakersfield, created the band in April as a way to bring promising and gifted student musicians together with Bakersfield's best jazz musicians.

Some of its steadiest members -- Ernie Cervantes and Glen Fong -- have played music with her for more than three decades, and others, such as Michael C. Raney, Steve Eisen and Kris Tiner, play whenever they can.

The pairing of principal members of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, the director of the Bakersfield College Jazz Band, the CEO of the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop, Zarow and others with music majors from Bakersfield College and CSUB brings a synergy to the ensemble that's palpable.

The students "are going to absorb and learn from sitting next to the best jazz musicians in Bakersfield," said Zarow. They have a chance to work on nuances, phrasing and solos, to hear how jazz is supposed to be played.

Fernando Montoya, 25, a senior music education major plays four instruments and who Sunday played second trombone, had Cervantes -- principal percussionist with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra -- as an adjunct music professor at CSUB.

Hunter Raney, 18, a freshman engineering major at CSUB, played trumpet next to his father, Michael, the symphony's principal trumpeter. Tony Rinaldi, 19, on piano, has played piano since the second grade and first met Zarow and others as a junior high student attending the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop.

"These are some of the best musicians," he said. "These are people I've looked up to."

JoeAnn Wardlaw knew what to expect. That's why she staked out a seat on a sofa 45 minutes before the show began. Of course she loves big band music. She and her husband Arthur used to dance to it all the time. Now, the 81-year-old has two artificial knees and her husband passed away seven years ago.

"It seems like seven and forever," she said. "You can imagine."

Only two couples danced; too many others were dependent on walkers or had no partners and had to content themselves with wistful glances. But they clapped, and tapped their toes and sang along. When Gershwin's "Embraceable You" played, many in the crowd of about 50 closed their eyes and remembered someone or some place.

Zarow, who like several others in the band plays multiple gigs and also teaches music, enjoys crowds like those at the Carriage House Estates. Although the gig is a paying job, it doesn't pay much, and that's not the point anyway, she said.

"It's about entertaining the retirement community because they appreciate the music. It's very rewarding to see these people enjoy our music so much."

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