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Drummer Colin McDaniel back in town with jazz quintet

Drummer Colin McDaniel, a Davis High School alumnus, practices with Lara Downes at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis. McDaniel plays with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet at University of the Pacific in Stockton. The quintet backed up Downes in two performances at the Mondavi Center over the weekend. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

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April 11, 2011 | Leave Comment

Last April, drummer Colin McDaniel – then a senior at Davis High School – auditioned for a spot in the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, an ensemble that is based at the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, and tours nationally.

McDaniel won a spot in the group. And he graduated from Davis High in June.

This past weekend, McDaniel was back in Davis, and he was here on business, as the institute’s quintet backed up pianist Lara Downes in a re-scored version of Duke Ellington’s concerto “New World Coming” in two concerts at the Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theater.

McDaniel said he’s very much enjoyed his year as the drummer with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. This year’s edition of the ensemble got together last fall, and after only a few days of rehearsals, they were off to the Detroit Jazz Festival, where they performed with rising saxophone star Wayne Escoffery on Sept. 6. “It was a free outdoor concert, and we had a big crowd show up,” McDaniel recalled.

Other trips have taken the group to Los Angeles, and to Santa Barbara, where they were the opening act for legendary pianist McCoy Tyner.

When not on the road, the members of the quintet take intensive music courses at the University of the Pacific (including jazz history, music theory and more), and study with jazz luminaries such as saxophonist Bob Mintzer and trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Sean Jones.

The group also recorded a special song for Dave Brubeck’s 90th birthday celebration last December. “We’ll be going to meet Mr. Brubeck in Washington, D.C., later this month,” McDaniel said. “We’ll be appearing on a bill with his quartet.”

“Being in the group has definitely changed my outlook on music,” McDaniel said. “I have a deeper connection to music now, and it’s helped with my compositions. I compose a lot.”

Playing regularly in front of audiences — sometimes large audiences — also has helped McDaniel get over the jitters about going on stage that he sometimes experienced as a high school student.

The five members of the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet live in a dorm at UOP’s Stockton campus, and stay together on the road. (McDaniel lodged with the group at a local hotel this weekend, rather than stay at his family’s home in Davis.)

McDaniel’s one-year gig with Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet will wind up in May. “But by now, the five of us know each other so well that I’m sure we’ll continue to work together on projects in some combination.”

Once the quintet disbands for the summer, McDaniel will be back in Davis for a little while. He also plans to go backpacking in Montana with family members. Then he’ll be off to UCLA, where he plans to study music, film (which is also a major interest for him), and perhaps physics and psychology as well.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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