Improvisation is at the heart of jazz, and the same can be said of Tea Room. The newly formed 5C band grew out of a Pomona College Jazz Ensemble practice when Dylan Yin PO ’23, Alex Arguelles PZ ’24, Jeremy Martin PO ’25 and Nico Santamaria PO ’25 started having fun together in the early days. weeks of fall 2021. semester. Instinctively drawing on each other’s musical cues, the four musicians felt an instant connection.
Noting the role of jazz in forming the group, Yin explained this connection.
“One of the great things about jazz is that it’s essential for finding good chemistry with your bandmates,” he said. “It’s really, really important to be able to respond to each other in a split second and detach from each other to form a cohesive piece… [we] immediately had this great chemistry and were able to build up really quickly.
The band often jammed before and after jazz rehearsals, and as they continued to experiment with their collaboration, they realized that beneath that spontaneity lay a seriousness about playing together. With Martin on drums, Arguelles on piano, Santamaria on trumpet, and Yin on saxophone and vocalist, they formed a band, practicing throughout the first semester.
But Tea Room’s improvisations don’t stop at their music; their group name similarly materialized out of the blue. Martin came up with the idea of naming the group “Tea Room” after one of Yin’s sweaters, and it was originally a placeholder. However, when the band landed their first gig, the name stuck.
After returning to campus in January 2022, Arguelles received a text message from a member of Village Green, another 5C group. Village Green’s next gig at Last Name Brewing Company no longer had an opening act, and they wondered if Arguelles and the rest of the band would play it. Tea Rooom quickly said yes – and just as quickly realized they needed a lead singer to perform.
Luckily, in another spontaneous musical circumstance, Arguelles had previously met Cece Malone PZ ’24 in September 2021 at the piano in one of Pitzer College’s common rooms. Refreshed by their shared musical knowledge, the duo began playing together regularly.
So, four days before their first gig, Tea Rooom reunited in full with Malone as lead vocalist.
“It was really easy the first time I came to sing with you guys,” Malone said. “I was really impressed that you already learned this shared language and played really well, and so it was really fun to get into it.”
The band held two more practice sessions ahead of the January 27 gig – by which time a poster had been circulating showing their band’s name with a mysterious third ‘O’ in ‘Room’. None of the band members know how the misspelling happened. But, as they do best, they just made do with it. For every gig they play, they half-jokely say, they’ll add an “O” to their name.
All five band members considered their first gig a success, remarking on their feelings of ease, excitement and pure joy on stage, as well as a surprising lack of nerves.
“AAt the end of the day, we just have fun up there. —Jeremy Martin PO ’25
They played “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, “Redbone” by Childish Gambino, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye, and the theme song for Club Penguin, the popular online game of the early 2000s. Of course, there were incidents: cut microphones, too noisy amplifiers, others too silent. But fun was what mattered most to Tea Room members.
“I think when you’re having fun on stage, that’s really what matters to a crowd…we like to do cool technical stuff and jazz stuff like that, but at the end of the day, we’re just having fun there. said Martin.
It’s a known rule of improvisation to go with what others are doing in order to keep a number of options open for the future. In this vein, the band steer clear of sticking to one genre, preferring to let their spontaneity continue to drive and push them.
“A lot of people told me… [to be] Tea Room, the indie pop band. Or Tea Room, the R&B cover band,” Arguelles said, “but [I like] having that variety, not being limited to a specific genre, and being told what to play for publicity or marketing reasons, because once we get to that point, it’s like what are we really doing it for?
Martin echoed a similar sentiment.
“One of the big things that we really want to focus on as a band,” he said, “I think part of it is having fun, but we also want to be able to really venture out .”
At the start of their trajectory, Tea Rooom still hasn’t got it all figured out – and that’s just another part of the fun.
“I would say it’s really the start,” Santamaria said. “We are defining ourselves as we go along, and I think that will be the case for a bit longer.”
They understand the territory of a college group and by keeping everything light they avoid putting too much pressure on the growth of Tea Room. The group hopes to play more concerts, perform original songs and create themed sets, all with the goal of creating a fun time for themselves and their audience.
Underneath this sentiment, Martin simply summarizes Tea Room.
“I think we’re serious musicians who don’t take themselves too seriously,” he said.