Sporting the laid-back, easy going, fun loving style that can only really be mastered by musicians who have played together for a long time, The Famous Jazz Orchestra rocked the house Friday night with classic jazz and blues numbers as well as a few originals of their own. Interlacing between the songs comfortable banter with the audience and his performers, trombonist Vaughn Wiester led the twenty-one piece band through the evening of stellar music.
The Columbus, Ohio based big band performs weekly at the Columbus Music Hall. The band features the usual instruments in trombones, saxophones, and trumpets, but also plays host to the more unusual tuba and French horn. The unusual instrumentation helped to strengthen the already impressively rich sound.
The Famous Jazz Orchestra played a wide range of music, ranging from the title song to the movie Emily to blues numbers and faster jazz numbers like “Evil Eye.” They performed a classic written by Indiana’s own Slide Hampton in the fifties entitled “Frame for the Blues.” This number, which wrapped up their first set began with a blaringly dissonant chord and from there, took off into a wild romp through several styles of jazz, including fast and slow, loud and soft, and everything in between.
One of the most interesting pieces was commissioned and composed for the Famous Jazz Orchestra itself. Wiester requested the piece of his friend Bill Dobbins, who arranged for the group a version of Bill Evans’s “Turn out the Stars,” which Evans had composed soon after his father died. The heartfelt piece featured solo tenor saxophone and a small chorus of flutes, which blended together quite beautifully.
The Famous Jazz Orchestra provided a diverse and engaging evening of amazing jazz music. Their love for the genre shows through their playing and their interactions with the audience and each other. If you ever find yourself in Columbus on a Monday night, you would not regret stepping into the Columbus Music Hall for an amazing show.