“Jazz without Elephants” review


Kyle Lopez both plays the guitar and sings solo in “Belle”

Jp Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

Elephants in show business are the blatantly elaborate and purely aesthetically pleasing factors of a performance. They present themselves in the form of big costume changes and overly-choreographed numbers. But on Thursday Nov. 8, Music Corporation left the elephants behind – and all that remained was bare-bone, pure vocal jazz. Singing was the true focus.

This year’s show began as lights dimmed and an array of colors flashed across stage – a blue, some sort of mellow green and a yellow with an orange tint. A lone trumpet sounded off in the upstage, beginning to play a lively jazz selection made by the MC Jazz Combo. The group included piano, percussion, guitar, bass, sax, trumpet and trombone. After a few minutes of the instrumental section, Music Corporation made their debut, the guys sported flashy maroon vest and the girls wore buttoned-down tops of the same nature. They took a seat on the 16 stools lined up in a semi-circle across the stage.

After splitting into their sections (from left to right: bass, alto, tenor and soprano), they sang their first number “All the Cats.” It foretold the nature of the performances: for the majority of the show Music Corporation would harmonize and every now and then a lone performer would take center stage and sing solo.

It was obvious how much practice had gone into the show because the harmonies were nearly perfect, except for a few moments where a sharp pitch could be heard. Although they were all sung technically well, only a few harmonies were really memorable at the end of night for causing those goose bump moments. Their harmonies were showcased best in the exotic “Shambala”, the quicker and energetic “Route 66” and the shows Latin inspired closing number “Besame Mucho”.

But the true “wow” moments occurred when a singer would take over center stage in the middle of a group number. These small breaks in the formulaic structure of the songs presented a chance for most of the Music Corporation singers to shine. Many of these small solos were scat solos, a rare form of impromptu singing that was commonly found in jazz music. The scat singing was a great addition and it was interesting to see the different takes Music Corporation members had on scatting as they ad-libbed.

There were also full solo performances scattered between group numbers. Only a handful of the singers got the chance to do these, being that there were only 11 songs performed in the show. The first solo, “Smile”, was sung by soprano Callie Bateman. It was well-deserved too because every time she sang it was stunning. Her voice just had that soothing quality that so many jazz singers are famous for.

Bass Paul Hainey had the most memorable performances of any of the boys in the vocal group. His performance of “Bewitched” was delivered exceptionally. He channeled his inner Sinatra and sang with   a certain breathiness and control that could be expected of any professional singer.

The one-hour-and-thirty-minute show was a marvel, but it went by so quickly. There is only one more chance to see the Music Corporation perform in their own show, “Sing” in spring. If “Jazz without Elephants” was just a taste of the talent and skill that the singers in Music Corporation possess, then everyone should be marking their calendars for May 4.