The Columbus Jazz Orchestra ended its “Ragtime, Blues, and Beyond” performance on a high note Sunday afternoon. The performance, which helped celebrate CJO’s 40th anniversary, ran Thursday through Sunday and featured some of the finest jazz musicians Columbus has to offer, as well as some very special guests.
The performance was a mini history lesson in jazz and covered bebop, swing, blues, and everything in between. A personal favorite was the revamping of “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman. The band updated the classic, changing it up rhythmically, harmonically, and in other ways so much that it’s nowhere near the recognizable ditty you might remember from the old Chips Ahoy commercials.
You may not know the name Tia Fuller, but certainly you’ve heard of the woman she’s played saxophone with—Beyonce. Onstage, Byron Stripling asked the saxophonist what it was like to work with Beyonce, and she described it as “transformational.” She said practicing with the singer during 8-12 hour rehearsals and watching her be meticulous about every detail both in the studio and as a business woman has inspired her to incorporate that same grace, diligence, and integrity into her own quartet. It appears that Beyonce’s charms indeed rubbed off on Fuller, as she wowed the crowd with her improvised sax solos both with and without backup help from the orchestra.
The Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra performed alongside the CJO. Standout 15-year-old pianist Micah Thomas impressed the audience with his fingers-on-fire interpretation of Scott Joplin’s piece “Maple Leaf Rag” alongside Bobby Floyd. The two brought a playful feeling to the piece, trading melody and accompaniment back and forth seamlessly. As both performers’ fingers flew across the keys, the crowd was left awestruck and gave the two a rousing standing ovation when it ended.
The CJO was also graced with the presence of drummer Lewis Nash, who has performed with the likes of Dizzie Gillespie, Natalie Cole, and Sonny Rollins. Nash shared a comedic exchange onstage with Luke Berger, the drummer of the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. Nash performed an intricate solo piece, and Berger clumsily tried to imitate. The comedic element made it more than just a musical performance; it was an entertaining show as well.
The next set of performances in the Swingin’ with the CJO series will be “Big Band on Broadway,” featuring Broadway voice Debbie Gravitte. For more information on this and other upcoming performances, check out www.jazzartsgroup.org.