Live Album Review: Bi-Co Jazz Band at Lunt Basement

The one-year anniversary of the Bi-Co Jazz Band performance in Lunt Basement has recently passed! Last fall on the night of November 18th, 2017, the musical forces of Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges (Bi-Co) joined together to bring the community a dynamic show. Filled with tight musical collaborations, impeccable solos, and snaps-worthy improvisations, the Bi-Co Jazz band truly showed its talents in all aspects of musicianship through its eight-song setlist. And the best part? The entire performance was recorded! Now available as an album on the online music platform, Bandcamp, the album “Bi-Co Jazz @ LUNT BASEMENT 11/18/17” is open to all who wish to relive the night. Or for those who, like me and the rest of the class of 2022, were not present to get a taste of what Bi-Co Jazz band is all about!

 

For me, the atmosphere of a live album is set by those first few stray sounds at a venue. Like any great live recording, the Bi-Co Jazz album kicks off with a few warm-up chords and muffled audience voices, which accidentally seep into the recording equipment. Then the band launches into their cover of “Sunny,” originally composed by David Pike. This track channels the original song yet strays in the best of ways with improvisations by several of the musicians.

Throughout the recording, faint voices can be heard. Some may say this subtracts from the music, but I believe it adds. After all, the venue is an important factor for a performance; what says “intimate venue” more than being a little too close to other audience members? The drifting voices make the recording more personal and the music more lively. The laughter in the audience is solid, sound evidence of the good time the band provides throughout the evening.

In true Lunt Basement fashion, there is a divide between the audience and performers at the beginning of the performance. This divide is made obvious when a member of the band shouts, “Come to the front!” at the beginning of the second track and is met by the sound of shuffling feet in response. The thing about Lunt Basement is that everyone pours into the space at different rates. There are some early birds, those who arrive on time, and of course, those who arrive late. The early birds, being the first ones there, stand quite a distance away from the stage, while those who arrive later take their place behind them. This is what forms the awkward gap between the stage and the audience. That the band immediately strives to break the barrier as early as track two is exciting because it means the good times start sooner rather than later.

The next few tracks are swanky as expected of a jazz band, but track number foura cover of “Body and Soul” performed by Amy Young BMC ‘19melts the audience-performer barrier once and for all. Her voice rests beautifully atop the rest of the band, and the piano shines even when backing up her vocals. The guitar’s bluesy embellishment gives the song personality throughout the entire track. This song is the ooey-gooey and warm middle of the album. It’s easily my favorite of the performance. Sometimes, simple songs showcase musicians’ talent best.

The next two tracks build up energy, readying the audience for the last song. “Young Rabbits” features peak musicianship in the solos and improvisations, but perhaps most impressive are the tight drums throughout the entire song. At one point, the song bottlenecks into a nearly minute-long drum solo, released only when the rest of the band returns with full force to finish the tune, as well as the setlist.

The Bi-Co Jazz band put on an impressive show that night, just over a year ago. Whether by the style of the band, the setting of Lunt Basement, or simply the recording equipment, the Bi-Co Jazz band’s sound captures the essence of a needle scraping the grooves of a record on their live recording. Though that rich, scratching noise is not actually audible, somehow the band gives the impression of being recorded on vinyl. They have a classic sound paired with unique talent and cohesiveness.

If you want to check out the album for yourself, you can listen to Bi-Co Jazz @ LUNT BASEMENT 11/18/17 on Bandcamp, and even name your price to purchase the album online!

Written by Shayleah Jenkins ’22, English major.

Edited by Matthew Ridley ’19.

Photos from Bi-Co Jazz’s Bandcamp.