Last winter, a brewery near campus was looking for a band to play as an opening act. A group of Claremont Colleges musicians quickly pulled one together and gave the event’s organizers the band name “Tea Room” as a placeholder.
“They spelled ‘room’ with three o’s,” says saxophonist Dylan Yin ’23, one of several musicians from Pomona’s jazz ensemble invited by keyboardist Alex Arguelles PZ ’24 to join the impromptu group. “We looked at it, we looked at each other and we nodded.”
Tea Rooom became the official name, though the bandmates joke that they should add another extra o after every show. Each performance since has reflected the quirkiness and versatility of the band.
“We’re not afraid to try songs we’ve never played before live, take audience recommendations or remix songs that already exist,” says drummer Jeremy Martin ’25, adding that the bandmates try to have a sense of humor in everything they do.
“We’re serious musicians who don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he says.
Trumpet player Nico Santamaria ’25 attributes their improvisational tendencies to the group’s jazz background. Vocalist Cece Malone PZ ’24 and guitarist Amya Bolden PZ ’24 appreciate that the spontaneous approach doesn’t focus on technicalities. It’s a constant learning experience, personalizing performances and interacting with each new audience.
“Music is all about expressing yourself and seeing if other people will relate to that emotion,” Arguelles says. “We can be whatever people need us to be. That’s quite lovely.”
A year later, the band is still playing gigs and has added guitarist Aden Cicourel ’26 as Bolden takes a more part-time role. Says Martin: “I wish I could give you a better idea of how many o’s we’re on, but I think we may have lost track!”
—Oluyemisi Bolonduro ’23