Last night Kish and I completed our Christmas cultural gift exchange by attending a performance of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Entitled Ella Fitzgerald & The great Ladies of Swing, the show featured the CJO in full throat and two superb guest artists: Marva Hicks and Nicki Parrott.
It’s the first time I’ve seen the CJO in a long time, and the show demonstrated what I’ve stupidly been missing. This is a tight group with a big sound and lots of talent to display, and when they get a chance to play classic tunes from the American songbook with two brilliant female vocalists (and, in Parrott’s case, a fine double bass musician, besides), you’re going to get a great show.
The program was top-notch from stem to stern, but I particularly liked Parrott’s rendition of Fever and I Will Wait for You and Hicks’ version of Stormy Weather, and Kish and I always relish Blue Skies, which was played on our wedding day. I also enjoyed CJO artistic director Byron Stripling’s tasty trumpet fills and deft vocal efforts to channel his inner Louis Armstrong– but the high point for me was Hicks’ powerful and heartfelt performance on My Man’s Gone Now, from Porgy and Bess, which was a knockout punch if there ever was one.
The CJO is another artistic asset in a city that is full of them. If you’re in the mood for some great lives music, you can still catch this show tonight and tomorrow.