Five musicians. The quartet sounded like a full orchestra.
Three vocalists. The trio sang for an unheard of three-hour concert at the Artist's Quarter Friday, September 11, 2009.
Best of all, the music was all Nat King Cole!
When you have the musical library of musical icon Nat King Cole, an evening of music is guaranteed to please. Cole was an international star, and even hosted his own national television program, when our own country was full of racial strife. Pianist Bob Pontius, guitarist Reuben Ristron, saxophonist Andy Nelson, drummer Jason Price, bassist Bob Galombeck -- teamed with vocalists Arlys Marie, Liz Cummings and Maurice Jacox -- to bring the Nat King Cole voice to the 21st Century!. The stage was truly full of the sound of jazz music as the group gigged all the classics, like "That Ain't Right," "Ramblin' Rose," "Orange Colored Sky" -- all presented with professional authority in style and sound. If I may be so bold, it was an "Unforgettable" concert.
But it was Jacox's a cappella rendition of "Calypso Blues" that silenced the appreciate audience. Interesting and spiritually intense, his interpretation encompassed African rhythms threaded with folk traditions. Marie and Cummings joined in and paraded eclecticism as they added bass tones and provided choral accompaniment.
A telling moment came when Jacox stepped forward and addressed the audience on what he considered a serious issue. He asked if anyone had smoked a cigarette. History reminds us that Nat King Cole passed away on February 15, 1965, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. He smoked an average of a pack of cigarettes a day, believing that smoking helped him maintain his soft, baritone voice. Looking back, Jacox made the audience wonder if there was anything Nat King Cole could've changed about his life, if that would've been it!
Nat King Cole, instrumental not only in knocking down racial barriers in his time, but also spreading the sound of jazz kept fully alive by Jacox and his fellow musicians.