Columbus Jazz Orchestra conducts the “Big Band Bash”



Who does singer Helen Welch look like?

Ask an expert.

“She has this wonderful voice,” said Byron Stripling, artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

“It’s kind of a cross between Karen Carpenter and Ella Fitzgerald. If that happens, ”Stripling said.

It makes sense. Like Fitzgerald, Welch sings jazz. Among his works is “Superstar: Reimagining the Carpenters”, in which Welch performs a song popular with the Carpenters.

When asked, Welch comes up with a set of the same name as Influence – and adds a few more to the mix.

“I always talk about myself. Take Ella Fitzgerald’s swing and Karen Carpenter’s viola, add some Whitney (Houston) and Aretha (Franklin) soul and you get me. You can put it in, ”Welch said, referring to the two legendary singers.

Friday’s uninterrupted 90-minute concert allows audiences to hear his voice in homage to the big band era and the upbeat music of the 1930s and 1940s. The live version can be seen on

The “Big Band Bash,” played by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra in place of the canceled Jaz Zoo concert, is typically the summer staple of the Columbus Zoo Aquarium and the ensemble’s first full performance since the start of this year. the pandemic. Masks are recommended for those who have not yet been vaccinated, but there is no social distancing.

“It’s amazing for us because we rely on the applause to keep us going at the concert,” said Stripling. “That’s why we’re all crazy about music. We are in the service sector.

Welch, a veteran of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra‘s past concerts, also expressed his relief by performing in front of a large audience.

“I didn’t understand how important (the audience) was until I started the live broadcast and didn’t sing for anyone,” she said. “It’s like walking in the mud with slippers on. I’m tired.”

Tired of Welch’s setlist with the orchestra, including a bunch of healthy songs from the heyday of the big band era, such as “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “I Meet You”. This is not the case.

Growing up in Norwich, England in the 1980s, Welch enjoyed his parents’ early music.

“My father was much older and welcomed me much later. He was a big band jazz fan, ”she said. “I grew up with it…. for me it is my lifeline.

She added: “When Byron said, ‘What do you want to do?’ My reaction was really ‘I want to make an engraver’. “

He describes most of the program starting with an orchestral segment that includes the jazz standards “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “Bugle Call Rag” and, of course, “Sing, Sing, Sing”.

“I built the program with a lot of songs that people could just hum through their heads,” Stripling said.

Welch isn’t the only guest of honor on Friday.

In one piece, the orchestra teams up with two recent winners of the Hankmar High School Jazz Awards, which the orchestra’s parent organization, the Jazz Arts Group, publishes for student musicians in Ohio. to augment. The award is named after a jazz keyboardist who died in 2004 and a person from Columbus.

“Hank Marr was a Columbus jazz legend,” said Stripling. “He was still in the band when I took over the band for the first time. People will have their place to be able to see it.

In addition to receiving $ 500, the annual winners will be professionals for performances with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. There was no performance last summer, so 2020 Bowling Green winner’s 18-year-old drummer Simon Metsger and 2021 winner’s Hilliard Mason Bryant’s 16-year-old guitarist tuned in on Friday. Will be done.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Metzger, who is studying jazz at the University of Southern California in the fall. “I think it’s going to be a great time (and) a great experience for me.”

Brian, who will enter the Academy of the Arts in Interlochen in Michigan this fall, is also less enthusiastic.

The young musicians have been guitarists since the age of nine and are mainly active in rock. Jazz has recently been added to its repertoire. He only participated in the Columbus Jazz Youth Orchestra last year, and it was a bit of a dice to participate in the Mar competition.

“I was confident, but I didn’t think I would win just because I wasn’t used to it,” said Bryant.

And now he’s adding another new experience to his CV: playing in a big band. “I’ve never played (jazz) with so many people,” he said.

But to quote another standard track Welch sings, “this could be the start of something big.”

“Usually these kids are way better than any of us,” Stripling said.

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In one look

The Columbus Jazz Orchestra, singer Helen Welch, guitarist Mason Bryant and drummer Simon Metsger will perform “Big Band Bash” at the Lincoln Theater on Friday at 8 pm. 769E. Longstreet tickets cost $ 40. The live stream of the concert costs $ 15 and can be viewed at the following URL: For more information, please visit:



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