Local audiences had a rare treat when jazz came to town this past Friday night. Renowned singer Allan Harris brought his five man band to town with “Long Live the King,” a tribute to the music of Nat King Cole.
Harris sung many tunes familiar to the audience, which were contemporary at one time for many of those attending the concert. Nat King Cole performed from the 1930s through the early 1960s.
While the show featured many of Cole’s popular songs, three of the numbers Harris and his band performed were especially memorable. “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” which Cole wrote with Irvin Mills, is a personal favorite. Allan Harris and his group did the song justice.
“(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66,” although not written by Cole, was initially popularized by him. The band had fun with this song, which has been covered by many diverse performers over the years, such as Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, and Depeche Mode.
On the concert’s finale, “Nature Boy,” Allan Harris and the band truly cut loose and played with an intensity that brought the song to life.
Allan Harris’ vocalizations and command of his voice were a joy to listen to, as well his stage presence. Harris shared with audience members that none other than Tony Bennett helped him develop his stage presence.
One other highlight of the concert was a scat singing contest between Allan Harris and the band’s saxophonist, Jesse Jones, Jr. It was a fun listening to each trying to outdo the other—all in good fun, of course. The best way to describe scat singing is by its Wikipedia definition: “vocal improvisationwith wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. Scat singing gives singers the ability to sing improvised melodies and rhythms, to create the equivalent of an instrumental solo using their voice.”
Allan Harris has traveled the world, performing as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His band members—Pascal LeBeouf, piano; Jake Goldbas, percussion; Leon Boykins, stand up bass; and Jesse Jones, Jr. saxophone and flute—had equally impressive credentials as musicians.
All in all, it was a great night for Pratt and the community concert series. We should feel fortunate to have such talent and musicality grace our local stage.