Boston College’s jazz ensemble, BC bOp!, returned to Robsham Theater last Saturday with their Star Wars themed, “Jazz Wars: the bOp! Awakens.” The show offered roughly 20 high-energy, entertaining performances that were immensely enjoyable even if they weren’t clearly related to the program’s intergalactic theme. With a nice mix of old favorites and new performances, BC bOp! brought viewers a spirit-lifting spectacle that had the audience tapping their feet all throughout the show.
The show began with grand, swinging tunes like “Almost Like Being in Love” with vocalist Amber Glavine, MCAS ’17, and “Corner Pocket” that quickly immersed viewers in the snazzy world of jazz music. From there the concert progressed into a sprawling piece, “Moanin’,” artfully arranged by drummer Sanjay Pamaar, MCAS ’16, showcased the talents of numerous musicians including Justin Solle, MCAS ’16, on the piano, Lucas Allen, MCAS ’16, on the guitar, and Isaiah Anderson, MCAS ’17, on bass.
BC bOp! has an aptitude for covering mainstream chart-toppers, as it did at the concert with its cover of Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea’s “Problem.” The lovely vocal talents of Marian Wyman, MCAS ’18, and BC bOp!’s artful reinterpretation transformed the song into a version that was arguably more enjoyable than the original. Another cover appeared with Nina Simone’s crowd-pleaser, “Feeling Good,” where jazz vocalists including Adam Fung, MCAS ’16, created a sensational presentation offering a fantastic version of the well-known tune.
One of the most fun performances of the night appeared with “Mack the Knife,”when audience clapped joyfully along with the band from the very first moments of the song. Vocalist Michael Mastellone, MCAS ’18, brought the whole song to life, and his spirited rendition had the audience on their feet in a standing ovation.
Another playful song came with “Oh, Lady Be Good,” which featured amazing vocals from Greta Ritzenthaler, MCAS ’17, and Ryan Silva, MCAS ’17, and was all over the map in the most entertaining, jazziest way possible. Later in the show, “Dangerous Precedent” featured some stellar solos from Kyle Murray, CSOM ’16, on guitar, Max Warwick, CSOM ’16, on drums, and Matt Passanante, MCAS ’17 on saxophone, all of whom showcased that the musical range BC bOp! can reach is beyond its crowd-pleasing yet more traditional jazz songs.
BC bOp!’s concert also included some performances that took a break from its energetic, blaring numbers. “Kiss From a Rose” showcased soft vocals and a stunning melody. The group also presented an a capella performance with “I’ll Be Seeing You,” featuring the beautiful vocals of Anne Wilder, CSOM ’16, in a way that granted the concert a smooth interlude in the midst of its other, louder performances. Additionally, another wonderful song appropriately titled “In a Mellow Tone” and showcasing the talents of Paul Schwartz, CSOM ’16, on trumpet, gave the audience a performance that was easy on the ears and exemplified another style of jazz music that contributed to BC bOp!’s rich display of the night.
Of course, one cannot have a jazz concert without more traditional jazz pieces as well, and BC bOp! delivered with numbers like “Emancipation Blues” and “Billie’s Bounce.” With performances from Marie Peduto, MCAS ’18, on saxophone, Zack Downey, MCAS ’16, on trumpet, and Christian Wilson, MCAS ’18, on vibes, the band achieved vibrant and zestful renditions of these classic pieces and showcased the dynamic quality of the ensemble as a whole.
“Jazz Wars: the bOp! Awakens” displayed everything from classic jazz music, to innovative takes on modern pop tunes, and everything in between. From the colorful performances of all of the group’s vocalists and talented musicians, the audience was treated to a memorable exhibition of jazz music in all of its spirited glory.
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor