Ben Jennings idolizes Nat King Cole, the iconic jazz star with the mellow baritone voice who started out as a pianist. Jennings, himself primarily an instrumentalist, related the story of Cole’s first time singing.
“There was this drunk guy pestering him, who kept yelling, ‘Sing something, man,'” Jennings said. “So Nat finally sang the only song he knew the words to, and that was ‘Sweet Lorraine.'”
Jennings, accompanied by The Rectifiers, a Weber State University-based jazz rhythm trio, opened his show Wednesday night at Ogden’s Union Station with the same song.
“Cole was famous for his one-octave range,” said Jennings, who was recovering from a cold and missing a lot of his high notes. “So, I’m going to sound a lot like him tonight.”
Jennings, who played guitar and percussion during the concert, regularly assists in producing the monthly jazz show, and has performed with most of the Ogden jazz favorites who have come through the Union Station, including pianist Zoltan Vegvari, cellist Viktor Uzur and famous saxophonist Joe McQueen.
“Ben’s the go-to guy for the music scene in Ogden,” said Bobby Gilgert, the drummer for The Rectifiers, who is also a sophomore accounting major at WSU. This is the first time the trio has performed with Jennings. Gilgert and the other Rectifiers have been playing together for three years after meeting in the WSU jazz band.
“We like to play the funky stuff,” Gilgert said. “It really allows you to open up.”
Clint Stanger, a recent WSU graduate, played upright bass for the trio, and said he enjoys the opportunities the trio affords him to keep performing.
“It’s just kind of a casual thing, performing,” Stanger said. “We started because, during the summer, we didn’t have any performances, so we just started to play for fun, and started getting offered gigs.”
Adam Kozlewski, The Rectifiers’ guitarist, has the longest experience in performance. After playing guitar for 25 years, he recently graduated from WSU’s music education program and is currently doing his student teaching at Wahlquist Junior High School. According to Kozlewski, teaching gave him a way to experience music differently.
“When I started teaching a blues-in-the-schools program,” Kozlewski said, “we taught 800 elementary school kids how to play the harmonica, and we did a concert for them at the Egyptian theater, and doing that, I just got that warm feeling you can’t get without teaching.”
The age demographic of the crowd skewed older, but many students were also in attendance.
“My old bass teacher is Clint Stanger,” said Patrick Krogman, a senior at Bonneville High School who attended the concert on a date. “He’s a great teacher.”
Krogman has been playing the bass for a year and a half, and said he has come to love jazz music.
“It’s the first concert I’ve been to here at the station,” he said. “I love it so far.”
Callie Shields, Krogman’s girlfriend and a Bonneville High School junior, is less familiar with these types of music.
“This is my first time here,” Shields said. “I’m not really a fan of jazz, but this is pretty good. I liked the Beatles song a lot, because I love George Harrison.”
Peter Shreeve is studying vocal performance at WSU, but hasn’t had a lot of experience with jazz.
“I’ve always had a big thing for jazz,” Shreeve said. “I want to learn the jazz piano later on, and I figured this class would be a good way to get there.”
Many students were attending the concert because of assignments for introductory music classes.
“I like jazz, said Caleb Dau, a freshman architecture major attending the concert as part of a requirement for his Intro to Jazz class. “Before, it was just all songs. Now I’m starting to understand the differences between swing, the blues, all that.”