Gray Bees Jazz Out!


John Jumbo

Gray Bee Jazz Band poses with Annette Aguilar.

Sebastian Andreason, Staff Writer

People who ventured out to The Hive on Thursday, December 8, were treated to an exciting evening of spectacular music. St. Benedict’s 12-member Gray Bee Jazz Band, led by Dr. Jeremy Fletcher, put on a show.

The band also had the unique experience of performing with special guest percussionist Annette A. Aguilar, who played on the timbales, bongos, and guiro throughout the evening. Aguilar has served in the theater and movie versions of “In the Heights” and as a drummer with The Grateful Dead. An American of Nicaraguan heritage, she has also played with jazz legend Tito Puente and tours internationally with her band “Annette Aguilar and the StringBeans,“ has served as a Latin Jazz Ambassador for the U.S State Department, and founded the New York’s Women in Latin Jazz Festival.

The program began with Miles Davis’ “Tune Up,” with a unified solo from the saxophone section of Pedro Cena (SY), John Queiroz (UD2), Jonathan Morales (SY), and Javier Hernandez (UD1), as well as Mark Surretsky (UD2) on congas.

This was followed by Billy Page’s “The In Crowd,” which was performed as a tribute to the late jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, with solos by Sam Campos (UD2) on the piano, Keisna Garib (UD2) on trombone, and Daniel DaRocha (UD2) on bass guitar.

Next was Kenny Dorham’s “Blue Bossa,” with Surrestky switching over to the piano as well as solos by Joshua Laube (UD2) on the trumpet and John Queiroz playing the alto saxophone. This song was originally supposed to be played at last year’s concert, but it was canceled due to the Omnicron outbreak.

Then the band jumped into a Latin take on Neal Hefti’s ”Cute,” with Dr. Fletcher’s baritone sax replacing the traditional flute and Kaleb Hassell’s (UD1) standout drumming joining Aguilar’s fiery bongos. (Dr. Fletcher offered an interesting bit of trivia about Hefti, explaining that he composed the theme songs for the “Batman” and ”Odd Couple” TV shows.)

“Christmas Time Is Here,” another song familiar from TV as part of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” featured solos by Keisna Garib on trombone and Sam Campos on the piano.

Throughout the evening, Daniel DaRocha was outstanding on electric bass, Arlene Matos (SY)

Brass Family Rocking Out! (John Jumbo )

represented the girls’ division with her skills on bongos, and Pablo Rojas (FY) was on the trumpet. To conclude the program they played “Jingle Bells” with a jazzy twist, adding some flair.

Ms. Aguilar was not the only special guest in the room. In the audience, there were two: noted jazz pianist and SBP alum Garry Dial and Mr. Terry Doan, an ardent supporter of the jazz band and the school.

After three years, the Jazz Band had a successful comeback concert. Not only was the audience enthusiastic, but as Dr. Fletcher said, “This is one of the largest crowds I’ve seen for the Jazz Band.”

For anyone who wants to catch more of our incredible jazz band, do not fret. You can look forward to hearing the four tracks they recorded that will be broadcast in April on WBGO 88.3 FM.