My Mom and I had a wonderful Jazz Night Out when we saw the Tony Hagood Trio perform “A Tribute To Nat King Cole” at the McConnell Arts Center on Friday the 9th. Hagood and band sold out the venue for the second time in a row to end their season, and the attentive crowd was very appreciative of their efforts. The program included a variety of trio tunes, giving Hagood, bassist Bradley Mellen, and drummer Reggie Jackson ample room to shine, as well as classic vocal numbers led by Chicago entertainer and Ohio native Evan Tyrone Martin. As soon as he took flight on “Orange Colored Sky,” Martin revealed himself as a supremely qualified talent to convey Cole’s tunes, with his musical theater background adding depth to his charming performance. The trio tunes were also replete with highlights, as “Honeysuckle Rose” found Mellen and Jackson trading bars to rousing effect. Keep reading for more on the show as well as previews of great upcoming Columbus jazz.
Martin was at home throughout the concert, brilliant on the classic sunny swagger of “Straighten Up and Fly Right” as well as on the Latin-tinged “Perfidia” from Cole’s South American period. “Nature Boy” was as enchanting as ever, with Martin’s phrasing and personality giving the tune the air of a mysterious radio drama from years gone by. After thankful acknowledgments of the successful season from Hagood and McConnell staff, the performance ended on a lively note. Finale “Route 66” swung HARD, with the entire ensemble offering their own personal passages. Martin was in full showman mode, Hagood displayed his expansive range, Mellen laid down an intricate solo, and Jackson was as explosive and precise as ever. After the first of two standing ovations, the band played an encore of “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” which again displayed the band’s rousing finesse, including one more installment of Mellen’s masterful solo humor, as another gem of the American Songbook was brought to vibrant life by the experts onstage. What a show! Plans are already underway for a second Jazz at the MAC season from Hagood and company, so stay tuned and get your tickets early!
Shows To See This Week
Saturday, March 17th (8:30pm – Midnight): R Lawrence Project at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse. This highly-regarded steakhouse chain recently opened a new location in Downtown Columbus and is providing some great live jazz as part of its weekly music schedule. One of the bands entertaining on a rotating schedule on Saturday nights is vocalist Ron Jenkins’ veteran quartet. Jenkins was kind enough to provide insights into their gig:
At Jeff Ruby’s, we play a combination of Adult Contemporary—Motown, R&B, Classic Pop (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers), and some Jazz Standards. Seating is by reservation (usually booked well in advance) but there is seating at the bar. Our usual line-up is: Andy Woodson – Bass, Louis Tsamous – Drums, Dan Rowan – Keys and vocals, and Ron Jenkins – Vocals.
If you haven’t been there, the decor is opulent and the audience is usually upbeat and energetic—we’ve had a few dance in the aisles. Dress is usually business casual and “above.” It is an upscale crowd who are enjoying the atmosphere.
Sunday, March 18th (11am – 1pm): Doug Neel at The Market District Kitchen & Bar, Bexley. Multi-instrumentalist Neel is starting a new weekly gig Sunday at this restaurant within the Market District grocery store. This event is in the middle of the restaurant’s Sunday brunch service, which runs from 10am to 2pm. The music will primarily be comprised of Neel on his 7-string guitar playing a variety of solo material, but Neel told me to look out for appearances by Capital students and professional guests in the near future. Welcome a new jazz brunch to the Columbus Jazz Calendar and enjoy some classic guitar sounds with an excellent meal.
Monday, March 19th (7 – 9pm): Whirlybirds at Cosecha Cocina, Italian Village. The new Monday night Concert Series at this neighborhood Mexican restaurant on N. 4th Street covers a fair amount of stylistic territory, and is now moving into jazz with this week’s show. Whirlybirds’ modern brand of small band Dixieland and swing gets crowds moving wherever they play, and this intimate show should be no exception. Hear some classic favorites and the band’s growing catalog of original material in an intimate setting.
Have a great week!