‘Little by little’ live jazz comes back at Marion Art Center

Sep 19, 2023

MARION — Guests at the Marion Art Center tapped their feet and bobbed their heads to the sounds of jazz during a performance by guitarist Donn Legge and bassist Mike Lavoie on Friday, Sept. 13.

The duo played as a part of the Marion Art Center’s “Unplugged” series which features live music in the center’s upstairs gallery.

Legge and Lavoie played a selection of arrangements including “On the Sunny Side of the Street” by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, “Cariba” by Wes Montgomery and “Barcelona Nights” by Ottmar Liebert.

“I tried to pick a tune that was ‘jazz,’” said Lavoie, introducing On the Sunny Side of the Street. “This is coming up on 100 years old … Sunny Side of the Street [is] one of those tunes [where you say], ‘I don't know what jazz is, but that's jazz.’”

For pianist Matt Richard, who watched the “Unplugged” performance from the audience, Covid-19 made it difficult to find live jazz performances.

“We haven’t had live performances like this, it’s nice to have it come back,” he said. “It’s nice to see the Marion Art Center support that.”

Richard will have his own “Unplugged” performance at the Marion Art Center with bassist Dave Zinno on Friday, Nov. 17.

According to Richard, this was one of the first times that Lavoie has played since he “put down his bass for a while.”

“It was really cool to see … not only the acoustic bass but the electric bass,” said Richard. “He's like the consummate pro.”

During the set, Legge and Lavoie gave the audience some background on why they chose certain songs, and offered a peek behind-the-scenes of playing live music.

“I found this piece to be intriguing and challenging and all of the above,” said Legge of Wes Montgomery’s Cariba, before describing the technique he would use for soloing over the tune.

“It’s just great to have a place to go and hear jazz music,” said Richard. “Little by little it’s coming back.”