BC bOp!, Boston College’s foremost vocal jazz ensemble, performed this Friday in the Vanderslice’s Cabaret Room, in a well-balanced, warm, and welcoming atmosphere. The audience was mixed in age, mostly made up of both elderly folks and students. A low patter of cheerful conversation from the active crowd flowed freely when the performers were not playing, lending to the relaxed feeling that one had when present in that room.
Known as one of the premier musical groups on campus, bOp! draws from an incredibly skilled group of musicians. Its repertoire is varied, consisting of pieces from both traditional and contemporary jazz, Latin, and pop. bOp! is led by BC director of bands Sebastian Bonaiuto.
bOp! began the performance with a snappy rendition of Frank Sinatra’s classic “Fly with Me,” followed by Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” Something that must be noted, however, is that regardless of the piece that was played, everything was performed with an admirable amount of energy. Everyone on stage seemed to be having an absolute blast when they played—feet were tapping, fingers were snapping, and solos were tossed off to compatriots with a smile and nod. The performers’ clear engagement and excitement with the music that they were playing was clearly seen by the audience, who all remained engaged and entertained. Soloists received resounding cheers whenever they concluded their moments of glory, and all watchfelt attached to the pieces. This, again, has to do with the excellent variety on display. While younger observers likely got their kick more out of the modern pop repertoire, as well as oldies such as “September.”
While it was hard to pick out a distinct, pre-planned order to the performance, each piece flowed smoothly into the next. Part of that was due to the small amount of spoken introduction and conclusion to each of the pieces. It was almost totally absent, in fact, with the group diving straight into its repertoire, and then finishing it off with a quick “We’re BC bOp! Thanks!” This no-frills style was beneficial, however, as it kept the audience focused on the music at hand.
All performers knew their parts well, nothing really overpowered anything else, and the vocalists were totally in tune and in sync with each other. The stage presence was wonderful, as every soloist exuded exuberant personality during their time in the spotlight, giving the music they were playing a humanistic lift. The saxophone solos were especially excellent, as it seemed each note they played both stood out beautifully and fit in perfectly with the overall flow of the rest of the ensemble. Some of the runs appeared to be especially difficult, warranting major praise on those performers who deftly executed the piece. Special effects were kept to a minimum, although there was some synchronized clapping and hand waving from some members in the back, which counts as an effect, in its own special way.
The event was both musically and technically impressive, and widely accessible and left everyone leaving happy, satisfied, and once again blown away at the litany of snazzy musicians that are present on campus.
Featured Image by Sam Zhai