Celebration! is “too darn hot!”

Written by: Emma Sargeant
Morning Coffee, Dancing Men and Cottontail. Tom Almli’s jazz choir stole the breaths of audience members with sounds which would make candles melt on Friday, May 30 at the Carlson Theatre. The evening concert was a showcase of the talent of BCC’s vocal jazz ensemble, “Celebration.” The event was celebrating 35 years of the select group who have toured internationally and this year, were invited to perform at the IAJE jazz conference in Toronto. The invitational opened with the young voices of Arlington High School’s jazz ensemble, directed by Almli’s high school teacher, Lyle Forde. With passion, Forde moved these young voices, pushing their strengths, to produce impressively confident sounds from impressionably nervous students. The group moved in a synchronized fashion with choreographed sways and clicks and performed tunes such as “Too Darn Hot” and a student arranged version of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” The students finished their set by wowing the crowd with the most vibrant rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the mirror.” After immense anticipation, “Celebration” entered the stage to perform to a full house, full of proud parents, teachers, and friends supporting many of the vocalists’ last performance at Bellevue Community College, excited for their raw talent and potential to further their young careers in the jazz field. Almli walked on stage, dawning proudly a sparkling purple suit to introduce his finely picked group of men and women. Opening the set with Cantos’ “Morning Coffee,” students impressed viewers with their genuine passion and expression as they interacted with each other as well as with the director and audience, with smiles and sways, comfortable and confident with their song list, diligently prepared for the year, and performed frequently, even at one of Seattle’s jazz clubs, The Triple Door. Scats and sax solos built up the excitement of all in the room, provoking knee tapping and heel bopping. Musicians were invited to share their beats with the most amazing solos. Devin Lowe stunned all on the bass, manipulating sounds to create the illusion of a bassist with ten playing hands. James Baumgart strummed his stuff intricately on the guitar. Collin Sarchin mused all with his powerful saxophone and alto voice. Andy Emery boomed the show with emotive drumbeats. Megan Moreau shined with her sweet, smooth, creamy voice, performing her solos with genuine feeling. Tenor, Stefano Langone stole the hearts of all with the concluding song, “Singing Makes Me Happy.” The event was breathtaking. The support and passion of all who enjoy music and jazz connected to build such a positive atmosphere. Tom Almli is the most passionate man, proud of music and his students, and encouraged all with talent to stick with their love of music, for he even has a job in the field! It was a night which would be difficult to walk away, unimpressed or without the haunting joy of jazz beats booming from your toes.