It’s get­ting cooler out­side but hol­i­day pro­gram is hot

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - By Peter Tonguette tonguet­teau­

Do you ever hope for Arc­ti­clike weather when at­tend­ing a per­form­ing-arts event?

Some­how, a per­for­mance of “The Nutcracker” or a con­cert of hol­i­day mu­sic just doesn’t work as well with­out snow on the ground or, at least, tem­per­a­tures that call for over­coats, scarves and gloves.

The same goes for the Colum­bus Jazz Orches­tra’s an­nual “Home for the Hol­i­days,” which opened Wed­nes­day and con­tin­ues through Sun­day at the South­ern Theatre.

On Wed­nes­day night, the weather was chilly but not bit­ter. No mat­ter — the orches­tra’s warm, rich play­ing con­vinced this re­viewer that, baby, it re­ally was cold out­side.

Artis­tic Di­rec­tor By­ron Stripling kicked off the con­cert with an orches­tra-only set that in­cluded a moody in­ter­pre­ta­tion of “White Christmas,” with stel­lar so­los by Jim Pow­ell on flugel­horn and Bobby Floyd on or­gan, and a fun, fes­tive ren­di­tion of “Jin­gle Bells.” Stripling, a charis­matic, easy­go­ing host, knows how to set a mood with the right mu­sic se­lec­tions.

Floyd re­turned to his main in­stru­ment, the pi­ano, for his ar­range­ment of “What Child Is This?” The pi­anist’s evoca­tive, seem­ingly ef­fort­less play­ing was a high­light.

Mid­way through the first half, the high spir­its of the orches­tra were com­ple­mented by the high notes of so­prano Peggy Dye. Also the di­rec­tor of Opera Colum­bus, Dye joined the orches­tra for “Ding Dong Mer­rily on High,” which she aug­mented with pas­sages from op­er­atic sta­ples such as Puc­cini’s “O mio bab­bino caro.”

Dye was es­pe­cially ex­pres­sive in her ex­act­ingly enun­ci­ated per­for­mance of “My Fa­vorite Things” from Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein’s “The Sound of Mu­sic.” The so­prano put the “crisp” in the “crisp ap­ple strudels” re­ferred to in the lyrics.

Fol­low­ing an in­ter­mis­sion, vo­cal­ist David Pruyn was show­cased on sev­eral songs. A strong but sub­tle singer with an ap­peal­ing stage pres­ence, Pruyn was heard to mem­o­rable ef­fect on the hymn-like “Some Chil­dren See Him” and a zesty, zippy ar­range­ment of “Sleigh Ride.”

Dye re­turned for a duet with Stripling on “Baby, It’s Cold Out­side,” a song that calls for equal parts chem­istry and vo­cal chops — and the singers had both. The spirit of the song, like the evening it­self, was con­ta­gious.

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