by John Hogan
I admit—I’m no expert in jazz. Or music composition in general. My brief affair with the recorder ended anticlimactically after the eighth grade. In fact, most of the indie music I listen to was introduced to me by friends with better taste and ears more finely tuned to the rhythms of the underground. But don’t think for a second that my mild incompetence impedes my ability to appreciate good music when I hear it. My amateur eardrums absolutely reveled in the sound waves of bOpFlix last Saturday night. You probably saw the Netflix-themed advertisements around campus. And hopefully they piqued your interest enough to buy a ticket because bOpFlix proved to be one of the most elating nights of music this semester.
For a long while I belonged to the Bart Simpson School of jazz sucks. But that was before I appreciated the finer things in life. Like bay windows and gouda. Over the past few months, I’ve had the fortune of being schooled in jazz by my future roommate and current bOp! trumpeter Andrew Heimerman. His aggressively blonde hair against the red-lit curtain was the first thing I noticed when the tuxedoed bOp! players took the stage.
Perched in the second-to-last row, my three friends and I had a bird’s eye view of the performance. The ensemble strutted out before the lights dimmed. The sounds of their light warmup filled the space between conversations with eager sophistication. When the lights shut, the talking seamlessly morphed to applause. Audience members shouted names of their friends and the blue screens of phones and cameras floated like electric fireflies in the dark.
bOpFlix began with no introductions of any kind. Darkness filled the room. The light projected on the curtain switched from red to a light swirl of pink and blue reminiscent of these popsicles you may have eaten as a child. The night kicked off with a jazzy rendition of Charles Calhoun’s “Smack Dab in the Middle.”
The entire performance was spectacular. It was clear that bOpFlix was the culmination of months of hard work and creative energy. Every song wrapped itself around my brain—capturing our attention based on their own merit, rather than riding the coattails of whatever song that came before. But I don’t think I blinked once during the 11th act. Mike Mastellone stole the spotlight—and probably the hearts of each audience member—when he sang Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” I met Mastellone at late night a few weeks prior. I thought he was a great guy, but I never thought he would give Frankie Valli a run for his money. Not many 18-year-olds can conquer the stage with such grace. If he was nervous, his bellowing tenor betrayed every hint of trepidation.
The strongest connection bOpFlix had to contemporary pop culture was ‘It’s All About That (Upright) Bass.” Marian Wyman made Meghan Trainor’s lyrics her own while Andrew Jones plucked his upright bass. With a doo-wop trio in sparkling gold tuxedo jackets, the word “booty” never sounded classier.
Director Sebastion Bonaiuto and Vocal Director Karen Sayward deserve all the praise they could ever receive—the talent they’ve drawn out of performers who probably aren’t any older than twenty-two is remarkable. Jazz filled Robsham like water last Saturday night. After what was a long and arduous week of midterms for many, there could have been nothing more rejuvenating than easing back and letting the music take over. I wasn’t trying to escape from reality walking into the theater, but I found myself completely and joyously lost by the end. The performers’ energy certainly rubbed off on the audience; it seemed like everyone walking out of Robsham left with a smile on their face and a lively bounce to their step. Regardless of whatever activities people spent the rest of their Saturday nights doing, I’m sure no one had a problem remembering what chords bOpFlix struck Sunday morning.