This Friday night, the Vanderslice Cabaret Room was enlivened by an upbeat performance by BC bOp!, Boston College’s premier instrumental and vocal jazz ensemble. The band treated the packed audience with an evening of various classic and contemporary hits.
Throughout the night, the ensemble alternated between purely instrumental songs and vocal tunes accompanied by the band, including Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be,” Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” Most of the instrumental jazz songs featured fast-paced salsa-like rhythms supported by the guiro, a Latin American percussion instrument, and bongo drums. The rest of the band consisted of saxophones, trombones, trumpets, a drum set, the double bass, and the keys.
All of the dapperly-dressed singers’ voices complemented each other well. The intimate space and great acoustics of the Cabaret Room allowed the music to sound clear without being overpowering.
While BC bOp! displayed its talent collectively, individual members had the chance to show off their prowess during long, complex solos. Saxophonist Brett Gullickson, MCAS ’21, wowed the crowd with a particularly memorable solo. The ensemble shifted seamlessly between solos and group performances. Singer Korinne Arenas, MCAS ’22, stole the spotlight during a solo as she effortlessly carried difficult high notes that resonated throughout the intimate space.
The most energetic portion of the concert unfolded toward the end of the evening, when the ensemble performed Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud.” During “September,” four male singers belted its classic lyrics in harmony while the band added texture with various crescendos. Once the ensemble played “Let’s Get Loud,” the crowd felt the rhythm, and the singers began to groove to the rhythms while chanting “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!”
The night ended on a high note with the band’s performance of “That Cat is High” by The Manhattan Transfer. Singer Joseph LaRocca, CSOM ’22, channeled Frank Sinatra-like swagger and sound as the other vocalists lined up behind him and danced back-to-back while chanting the background melody. During part of the song, the trumpet and trombone players shook their respective mutes in the air and then deftly tossed and caught them.
In its first performance of the year, BC bOp! demonstrated its ability to energize a crowd through a variety of genres, including Latin, swing, and even funk, proving that jazz is as relevant as ever in the 21st century.
Featured Image by Aneesa Wermer / For The Heights