With The Lovejoy Group
The music of the late jazz great Nat King Cole came alive again on Friday, March 22, when The Lovejoy Group opened the Calvert Marine Museum’s (CMM) 2019 Maritime Performance Series with a tribute to the great singer and songwriter.
Director Sherrod Sturrock welcomed the large group to the newly renovated Calvert Marine Museum. The museum has added new classrooms on the second level that will open later this year. Sturrock also announced that she would be retiring later in the year, but assured the group that the Maritime Performance Series would continue well into the future, introducing Doug Hood who will be booking the performers.
The Lovejoy Group is a versatile ensemble providing jazz, blues and smooth Latin rhythms. Listening to the group you just want to get out of your seat and move to their music. Performing were Sammy Munguia, piano; Emory Diggs, bass; Lawrence Dean, drums; and the beautiful Karen Lovejoy, bandleader and vocalist.
In the intimate setting of Harms Gallery, the talented quartet took us on a journey through Nat King Cole’s life, who would have been 100 years old this year. Lovejoy provided the back story of Nat King Cole, who was considered a virtuoso on the piano. The son of a Baptist preacher, Cole was a child prodigy, who began playing piano at age four, and later dropped out of high school to start a trio.
Nat King Cole helped the world fall in love in the 50s, and the music took us to another place in time. Opening with 500 Miles High by Chick Corea, the group moved into other favorites – Sweet Lorraine and Make Believe.
Recording more than 100 songs that hit the charts and more than 40 albums, the group played one of Nat King Cole’s first big hits, Straighten Up and Fly Right. Known for his great sense of humor, it is said this song was born after hearing a sermon delivered by his father.
Nature Boy, recorded by Nat King Cole in 1948, was a song written by eden ahbez, who was considered the father of the “hippie movement.” Considered autobiographical, ahbez wanted Cole to sing the song, and spent time trying to meet the singer. ahbez finally left it with Cole’s valet. Cole liked the song and went in search of the “nature boy” for permission to record it. It is believed this song opened up new audiences for the singer.
Lovejoy said “Cole’s baritone voice made us fall in love and feel better about everything. There is always love in everything you do.” Other songs the group did by Cole included his hits I Just Can’t See for Looking, Unforgettable and Mona Lisa.
The Lovejoy Group played tribute to other great jazz, blues and popular artists with renditions of No More Blues, Sister Sadie, Here’s That Rainy Day, It Could Happen to You, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was and Close to You. They also provided a playful version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s No More Blues (Chega de Saudade), which is often considered to be the first recorded Bossa Nova song.
Karen Lovejoy said, “You got to love the blues, because you cannot do jazz without the blues.” Listening to The Lovejoy Group, I wished that I was sitting next to my “main squeeze” holding hands and swaying to the music.
Judi Kane, who frequently attends the concerts said, “Concerts at Calvert Marine Museum are of such high quality. They provide a sense of community, an opportunity to meet friends and enjoy great music. It is an easy decision to make time for it.”
The Lovejoy Group provided two hours filled with great jazz and blues. If this performance is any indication of the rest of the season, I would recommend season tickets!
Upcoming performances include:
April 12 – Doofus providing lively old-time music featuring Neal & Coleen Walters and John & Heidi Cerrigione playing guitar, autoharp, mountain and hammered dulcimer, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and acoustic bass.
May 17 – Al Petteway and Amy White, providing an eclectic repertoire including original, traditional, contemporary Celtic and Appalachian influenced music with nods to Blues, New Age and Jazz. Their music has been featured on a number of Ken Burns documentary films.
June 14 – John Conolly, an internationally respected singer songwriter based in the British folk tradition, is known for his thought-provoking, tuneful, and often outrageously funny songs. Playing with Conolly is Netherlands native Rob van Sante, playing sensitive guitar accompaniments and vocal harmonies that complement John’s “tuneful and though-provoking” songs.
Except where noted, all performances are in the museum’s Harms Gallery starting at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. with beer, wine, and sodas for sale. Tickets are $20 online, $25 at the door.
For more information on the Calvert Marine Museum and the Maritime Performance Series, visit www.calvertmarinemuseum.org
Please enjoy the picture gallery below!
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter