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First concert series leaves guests jazzed

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Steve Alaniz, instructor of woodwinds, performs “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” with Reed Gratz’s band Sunday in Morgan Auditorium. The performance was the first of the Sunday Music Concert Series for fall 2012. / photo by Katherine Careaga

Sarah Veissalov
Staff Writer

Reed Gratz, professor of music, led a group of jazz musicians for the opening of the Music Concert Series on Sept. 9 in Morgan Auditorium.

The American classical tradition of the jazz music was diverse with up and downtempo beats. It was intriguing to watch how skilled these musicians handled their instruments. The lighting set the mood with it focusing brightly on the musicians and dimming out farther in the audience.

Gratz was the star of the show and the reason many people came to watch.

“I like to watch Reed on piano,” Regional Campus Administrator for academics , Lorene Thomas said. “I’ve been listening to Reed since I was 18.”

Gratz does not just play with one band; instead he plays with multiple bands.

“This is normal for experienced jazz people,” Gratz said. “Musicians practice on their own and join in on different bands.”

He said this is the American classical tradition.

The band played for the first time together at rehearsal at 4:15 p.m. before the concert.

Gratz’s main talent is with the piano. Gratz manages to find time to create his own music while still being a professor at the University, a position he has held since 1977.

He also has written a book and has multiple CDs out.

As a young child, Reed Gratz was always surrounded by music. His mother was a fine pianist and his father was gifted with a great voice. His older and younger brothers are also currently musicians.

Gratz discovered the University of La Verne while attending college at what is now known as Manchester University in Indiana, which is one of La Verne’s Brethren sister schools.

His goal, when it comes to music, is to help students attain their music goals and be at the level they want.

Redondo Beach resident Bob Fazio, who played the bass at the Music Concert Series, has known Reed Gratz for about three years, and they met while working on an outside project.

Fazio is a piano professional, but plays bass as well. He started playing keyboard at eight-years-old.

On his own time he gives private music lessons from his home.

“I want to put out my own album. I haven’t done it and I need to get on it,” Fazio said when asked about his goals in music.

Many came to take a look at the great talent that was offered at the concert. Audience members ranged from students all the way to the elderly.

Everyone was excited and eager for the concert to start.

“I’m trying to soak up his (Gratz’s) talent. I hope it rubs off on me,” CAPA student Kehaulani Aspen said.

The other band members were saxophonist Steve Alaniz, guitarist Pebber Brown and drummer Bob Dominguez.

All the band members, except Fazio, are adjunct music professors at the University.

The audience applauded during and after each song.

The audience members bobbed their heads and tapped their feet to the beat of the music as it vibrated through the chairs and walls.

One audience member was even tapping his chair like it was a drum set.

After each song, Gratz took the time to introduce the members of the band and gave thoughtful words about them.

Some songs included “Oh Sugar,” “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans,” and “Morning,” which was written by Clare Fischer.

“This band has been together for three songs,” Gratz joked after the third song ended.

Sarah Veissalov can be reached at

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