“A Tribute to Richard Rogers” concert was held at the Ware Center on Friday, September 28. Paul Jost, and a company of musicians, performed the show as part of the Ware Center’s jazz season, “Jazz in the Sky.” The event was held upstairs in the Grand Salon, one of the Ware Center’s signature rooms. Jost sang a variety of songs by Richard Rogers, and gave anecdotes about different pieces, which included numbers from “South Pacific” and “Sound of Music.”
Jost is well-known himself. According to The Jazz Network Worldwide Social Network, “he has composed for Canon Pictures, NBC…[and his]…vocals, drumming and harmonica can be heard on national jingles for Johnson & Johnson, American Airlines, Nissan, Annheiser Bush, Miller Beer, Subway and Dow Chemical.”
The event began with Jost giving an introduction to Richard Rogers. Rogers, he said, wrote 900 different pieces. While much of Rogers’ fame comes from his impressive repertoire of Broadway musicals, such as “Carousel,” “Showboat” and “Oklahoma!” he also wrote many other songs independent from the musical play genre. This being the case, Jost’s concert program didn’t strictly focus on Rogers’ musical songs.
Jost also went on to name some of the celebrated awards that Rogers was given. He mentioned that Rogers received the Pulitzer Prize and won an EGOT, an acronym for an Emmy Award, Grammy Award, Oscar Award and Tony Award, a rare and exceptional accomplishment.
The event began a little after the scheduled time of 7:30 p.m. Paul Jost, a pleasant, personable man, spoke to the audience about Rogers, and then, with his fellow musicians, began the music. All the songs had been rescored to be distinctly “jazzy”. The style of singing followed suit.
For those who are not familiar with jazz as a singing style, it sounds reminiscent of old-fashioned Christmas songs such as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” In the case of this concert, it was a generally relaxed style of music, although it definitely included a number of vocal gymnastics, some of which I had never heard before. While the concert was not to my taste, my friend who was with me enjoyed it. She described the song medley as “taking songs which we know and love, stripping the paint off them, and then repainting them to give them a fresh sound.”
“If that wasn’t jazz, I don’t know what was,” my friend said after the concert was over.
My friend also complemented Jost’s voice by describing it as “smooth.”
For jazz lovers, it was definitely music to be enjoyed. The event lasted about an hour and a half.
The Ware Center also did a fantastic job hosting the event. The atmosphere was similar to a low-key cocktail party. The Grand Salon was elegantly decorated, furnished with linen-draped tables and sparkling with tea-candles. I was also impressed by the Ware Center’s staff, all of whom were exceptionally kind and thoughtful.
For this particular concert, regular tickets were $20 per person. Millersville University students were able to get a discount for $10 a ticket. Tickets for Ware Center events can be purchased online or on the phone and can picked up at the front desk at the Ware Center.