Celebration! returns with new voices

BCC Jazz Choir performs in full swing at the Carlson Theatre

By Emma Sargeant
The Carlson Theatre was filled with an audience of the young and old Tuesday, Nov. 18. “Celebration!,” BCC’s vocal jazz band debuted their new ensemble directed by Thomas Almli. The auditorium hummed of the whispers and gossip of excited parents and students anticipating the supporting act, “Seattle’s Bluestreet Voices,” a community group consisting of career professionals and the retired. “Bluestreet Voices” was directed by Ken Wilson, who is a member of the music faculty at BCC. Standing on bleachers, the ensemble members were enthusiastic, enjoying their individual opportunity to shine like soloists while participating in the choral group. The set for the “Bluestreet Voices” was good, consisting of recognizable tunes for an audience of all ages: Judy Garland’s number, “Over the Rainbow” featuring Brian Ditmore; “Come Fly with Me”, made famous by Frank Sinatra; and “Some of These Days,” performed by a sultry Julie Gatz. The set concluded with a different approach to Handel’s “Hallelujah,” called “Hal and Lulu,” which satirized the annoyance of new neighbors on the block who fight and break the pristine rules of suburbia with messy lawns and marriages as well as unruly children. Whether it was the conclusion of the performance or a favorite song, “Hal and Lulu” was the strongest song for the “Bluestreet Voices.” Vocals were clear and singers interacted with each other as they enjoyed the song rather than just plainly singing it. Result: a warm and loud applause as the choral group took a bow. After a brief intermission, “Celebration!” took the stage. The chitchat of the audience ceased as the group of 22 walked out to form a curved line for all to see after an incredible prologue by the jazz quartet’s performance of Duke Ellington’s, “The A Train.” Wearing new uniforms of red, black and sparkles, getting rid of the purple-poet suits, “Celebration!” opened the second half of the show with scats from student directors, soprano singer Megan Moreau, who is prized for her smooth and sweet vocals, and bass singer Zach Trandum, as well as Rachel Moffat who is in the Soprano II section of the choir. Almli entered the stage after the students demonstrated their talent. The director interacted with the students in a way that encouraged and maintained consistent strength in the students vocals as well as their enthusiasm. The singers also engaged in eye contact with each other as they expressed their passion of singing and working as a group to enhance their well-known reputation of award-winning talent. “Celebration!” performed big-band classics, bebop and jazz. Accompanied by shakers and drums, the group sang Corea’s Latin-infused “The Sultan Fainted,” Jamie Cullum’s ” Twenty Something,” featuring Zach Tandum’s smoothly-controlled bass voice. All of the pieces were well directed. In Norm Wallen’s “Sin Blues,” the singers’ eyes had a sultry sparkle as they sang lyrics like, “there are a million other ways to lose control.” The lights turned a deep red, and the audience all had a naughty grin as they shared the same enjoyment as the choir on stage. The performance ended with a loud standing ovation from proud parents and friends. “Celebration!” will perform next on Jan. 30 at the Vocal Jazz Festival at BCC, and at a later date for their annual performance at Seattle’s Triple Door. Almli, alongside Julie Denninghoff, will be directing the “Concert and Chamber Choir” Dec. 4 and 5 at 7:30 pm for the Fall Concert of “Sounds of the Season,” a celebration of holiday music, at the Carlson Theatre.