Stellar vocalist and trumpeter, Bria Skonberg, hails from Chilliwack, British Columbia. She started music at an early age, making decision to perform even before growing up into adulthood. She left right out of high school and went to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and earned a degree in Jazz Trumpet Performance. Her studies allowed her gain many awards along the way to her prosperous career. She has already toured over a great part of the world. Bria is “poised to be one of the versatile and imposing musicians of her generation,” (Wall Street Journal). Her quintet plays several styles, blues, fusion, and cabaret, all rooted under the umbrella of jazz.
This was her second year playing at Newport Beach Jazz Party and now at Sunset Jazz at Newport. Her quintet contains some marvelous musicians: Patrick Bartley (Reeds), Mathis Picard (piano), Devin Starks (bass) and Darrian Douglas (drums).
They opened with a Louie Armstrong number I didn’t get the title of, but definitely some good swinging Dixieland. Everyone contributed with great rhythm with Bartley (clarinet) and Bria’s trumpet work made this an ideal, impressive opener. She sang a fine standard of Cole Porter’s, “Just One of Those Things.” All her quintet gave excellent solos, just the right backing for Bria, who also played trumpet. Her voice is clear and easily understandable.
Continuing, they played a groovy jazz classic, “Limehouse Blues,” starting with everyone soloing, tenor sax, trumpet, piano, drums (a big solo), more trumpet and clarinet trading measured bars and a great ending as well. . The audience was into this music and gave a lot of applause. This concert was filled to capacity with an enthusiastic audience.
A pretty ballad followed, “Trust in Me,” with a slow peaceful beginning. Bria’s vocalizing and her trumpet playing was backed by her cohesive quartet members. These musicians play extremely well together and listen well to each other’s performing to a tee!
Bria composed an original piece, “Some Kind of Crazy,” which started off with slow rhythm with Bria’s vocal work along with Bartley’s smooth tenor sax playing. The lyrics were expressive and meaningful. The rhythm section laid down some nice holding grooves making this one an impressive composition. The standard, “What Is This Thing Called Love,” played well and was an excellent arrangement. The group delivered outstanding solos, especially vibrant from Bartley (tenor sax), then Picard (piano) and Starks (bass). They finished the set with another Bria original, “How Can It Be.”
The second show set got really better with more stellar performing. They began a third original song from Bria Skonberg, “Down in The Deep.” This song sounded well and had nice definitive lyrics. A good type show tune came next, “I Have My High Hat, My Trumpet and Rhythm,” another very moving number musically and rhythmically. Bria’s trumpet work shinned very impressively with the quartet’s great backing.
Probably the absolute best highlight number of the evening was the beautiful ballad, “But Beautiful.” The quintet plays so cohesively that they delivered perfection musically for this terrific ballad classic.
Tenor sax man, Patrick Bartley, gave an introduction to a song he has loved for many years. He named one of two influences in his career, Ben Webster, who also played it years earlier, (1918) “Rose Room.” Bartley stated ,“He usually plays alto sax, but in this time is playing both tenor and a lot of clarinet.” Bartley played very strong and stretched out into some excellent avant-garde jazz lines, receiving some big applause. Picard played some beautiful piano backing. Starks gave a gorgeous bass solo for this number as well.
Towards finalizing the second set and near to closing out this well-received concert was “I Remember April,” a classic gem. It began as a calypso styled rhythm and progressed from there. The entire quintet all contributed their best artistic playing cohesively. More of last numbers of the second set were: “Watch What Happens” and “Malaguena,” very well played and received. This audience showed their enjoyment of the Bria Skonberg Quintet. They are busy with more upcoming touring throughout the U.S.A. See Bria Skonberg’s website: www.briaskonberg.com . Also please visit: www.sunsetjazzatnewport.com for several excellent concerts upcoming Wednesday evenings in Newport Beach’s Marriott Rose Gardens through Wednesday, September 19, 2018. For reservations, call 1(949) 759-5003.
Glenn A. Mitchell