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Organ trio merges personal styles

Gayle Serdan performs “Svoogaloo” as part of the Gayle Serdan Organ Trio on Dec. 2 in the Morgan Auditorium with Seth Greenberg on guitar and Mike Bennett on drums. In addition to teaching at ULV, Serdan also teaches piano and music appreciation at Etiwanda High School. / photo by Warren Bessant

Christina Collins Burton
Managing Editor

The University of La Verne community and an array of guests filled Morgan Auditorium on Dec. 2 to listen to the melody and beats of the Gayle Serdan Organ Trio.

The trio consisted of Gayle Serdan playing the organ, Seth Greenberg on the guitar and Mike Bennet on the drums.

“There are so many beats with three players and it’s great seeing them find their own voice behind the instrument,” Bennett said.

As she sat down to play, Serdan slipped off her shoes and placed her feet on the pedal board. While she plays, Serdan said she likes to feel the vibrations from the music in any way possible and it really gives viewers a chance to see how in touch she is with her instrument.

The opening song by Sven Hammond Soul started the performance on a high note as the trio began to play. The piece “Svoogaloo” had the audience bobbing their heads and tapping their feet along with each note played.

In the audience a mix of Serdan’s students sat in trance-like state listening to her play.

“She’s played for us, but I really wanted to see her in action because she doesn’t really go all out so I wanted to see her at her best,” Etiwanda High School junior Lance White said.

“I like to rap and sing so when she’s playing I’m creating my own words and singing along to what they’re playing out there, so it is inspiring thoughts and emotions for musical pieces for myself.”

Once they began Serdan’s original piece “Gimmie Some” the performances took an entertaining turn. During the original pieces, the musicians were improvising as the true notes were played.

The three performers played off each other’s sounds well and took cues for solo performances, allowing each of them to show off their skills.

Bennett’s drum solos captured the audience’s attention immediately. He danced and hunched over the drums, smiling and moved quickly to create a rhythm that complimented Serdan and Greenberg’s playing. Each solo ended with roaring applause from the audience.

“That’s the art of jazz, it is a creative process and as a jazz musician you know a piece for what it’s worth so you go off from there and you basically improvise and create spontaneously on the spot,” Serdan said.

The improvisation done on stage was so natural that it seemed like it was part of the piece’s actual structure.During the entire performance

Serdan kept her focus on the music, moving her body with each key she pressed on the organ, seeming as if she was pushing her very will into the notes.

“She’s great, she is very sensitive and shows a lot of excitement about the instrument,” Bennett said. “It’s such a unique and different instrument to play.”

As the performances came to an end, Serdan gave her fellow musicians one final mention and the trio played themselves off with a bang that had the entire auditorium erupt in applause.

Christina Collins Burton can be reached at christina.burton@laverne.edu.

Professor of Music Reed Gratz listens from the balcony of Morgan Auditorium during a performance by the Gayle Serdan Organ Trio on Friday. Gratz, who introduced the performers, has known Gayle Serdan for 25 years. / photo by Warren Bessant

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