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OttawaJazzScene.ca's Pick of the week for March 16 to 22: Antoine L Collins Sings Nat King Cole at the Mercury Lounge

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

Friday, March 17, 2017: Antoine L Collins Sings Nat King Cole at the Mercury Lounge

Vocalist Antoine L Collins has reinvented himself several times. Originally from Indiana, he worked as a lawyer in the United States and in Ontario. He got bit by the musical theatre bug in Ottawa, making his debut in an Orpheus production of RENT in 2011. After moving to Israel, he continued to perform a variety of roles in musical theatre productions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Coming back to Ottawa, he performed in Orpheus' A Chorus Line in 2016.

And then he fell in love with jazz, seeing it as "an intimate and articulate way of telling stories – stories of love, loss, hope and life." He released his debut jazz album, Somewhere Along The Way, in 2016. He is currently working on his second: Nature Boy – The Music of Nat King Cole, a tribute to the iconic jazz singer and pianist. It's scheduled to be released this fall.

For Collins, "Nat King Cole was a masterful storyteller whose songs always awaken powerful emotions, of passion, of pleasure, and sometimes of melancholy." He is passionate about Nat's masterful storytelling, which addresses universal themes, as well as deeply personal struggles, hopes, loves, regrets, and fears that Antoine is certain will resonate deeply today among a new generation.

Collins says: "I am proud to be honouring this incredible man.  Almost every Canadian jazz artist – indeed almost every jazz artist in the world – has been influenced or touched by his smooth vocal and piano stylings. The impact of this legendary and pioneering artist continues to cross the world’s cultural and political boundaries.  His success in the face of many adversities is an illustration of the triumph of talent over ignorance and prejudice."

This concert marks the jazz legend's 98th birthday. The quintet will play some of Collins' favourite Nat King Cole songs from throughout his career. "Our aim is to take the listener on a musical journey through a selection of songs that eloquently express life experiences that everyone can relate to – whether black or white, young or old, gay or straight, male or female."

Antoine L Collins and his quintet will perform songs made famous by Nat King Cole at the Mercury Lounge (56 Byward) on Friday, March 17, from 8 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

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