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Antoine Collins - Nature Boy
Vocalist Antoine Collins releases his second album, Nature Boy, in a show at the Mercury Lounge on March 17 (photo by Jihef Portelance)

Saturday, March 17, 2018, 8 p.m.: Nature Boy: The Music Of Nat King Cole CD Release with Antoine L Collins at the Mercury Lounge

Jazz vocalist Nat King Cole was renowned for many achievements: first as a jazz pianist, and then as a hugely popular jazz vocalist starting in the late 40s. He also broke the colour barrier on American television, hosting The Nat 'King' Cole Show in 1956, and appeared in many films and television shows. But he's most known as a popularizer and interpreter of jazz tunes that have stood the test of time: he had more than 100 pop chart singles and more than two dozen chart albums, a figure only surpassed by Frank Sinatra, and he stayed at the top until his his death in 1965. Among his most popular songs are "Straighten Up and Fly Right", “Ramblin' Rose”, and "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer", and in particular ballads like “Nature Boy”, “Smile”, “Mona Lisa”, and "Unforgettable".

For Ottawa vocalist Antoine L Collins, Nat King Cole was a "masterful storyteller". The songs he's included in his new CD, Nature Boy, "address universal themes, as well as deeply personal, struggles, hopes, loves, regrets, and fears. I tend to take the listener on an emotional and spiritual journey through the experiences of life. These songs are imbued with such emotion and spiritual feeling that the stories they tell will resonate deeply today among a new generation as well as veteran jazz and NKC lovers.”

"I try to use music to convey the awe and insight into our human experiences, which songs such as Nature Boy inspire in me. As a musician who has faced his own personal challenges, I want my music to tell the stories and evoke the emotions in others that I feel when I sing. Expressing stories musically is what being a jazz singer is all about, and in retelling them I strive to bring them to life for a new generation!"

On Saturday, Collins will release the CD in a show at the Mercury Lounge, together with a band of accomplished Ottawa jazz musicians. The songs on the CD range from the upbeat "Route 66" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home", to the lovingly-delivered "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves", and the impassioned "When I Fall In Love" and "Unforgettable".

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. With this second album, he says, he wants to "celebrate an outstanding musician who left an indelible mark on the world of Jazz."

On Saturday, he'll also celebrate Nat King Cole's birthday – Cole's 99th!

Vocalist Antoine L Collins and his band (J.P. Allain - piano, Normand Glaude - double bass, Richard Page - saxophones, Mike Essoudry - drums, Marianne Dumas – percussion, and guest vocalist Rebecca Noelle) present Nature Boy: The Music Of Nat King Cole at the Mercury Lounge on Saturday, March 17, at 8 p.m. at the Mercury Lounge. Tickets are $15 in advance online, $20 at the door; doors open at 7 p.m. The Mercury Lounge is located at 56 ByWard Market, just north of George Street. OC Transpo routes 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 18 all stop on Rideau Street nearby, and the lounge is also walking distance from the Mackenzie-King station on the Transitway.

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Every week all season long we send a full-featured Jazz Bulletin with our Live Jazz Guide full of dozens of live jazz events including this concert to our donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you! to readers who help us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Support OttawaJazzScene.ca and discover a lot more jazz every week