Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

  • Pianist Ramsey Lewis leans back in a chair and smiles for the camera.
  • Musician and vocalist John Pizzarelli, his arms folded atop his guitar, smiles for the camera.

Straighten Up and Fly Right:
The Nat King Cole Tribute

featuring Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli

7:30 pm Thursday, October 13, 2016

Nat King Cole broke the pop barrier with his smoky, smooth vocals, stringing along a huge number of solid hits right after his first, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” soared up the charts in 1943. As a vocalist, he was called “the best friend a song ever had,” but he was a jazz performer at heart. Even those later tracks crafted for the pop charts belie a piano technique, vocal phrasing, and on-the-mark orchestration that are indebted to his roots in jazz.

Pianist Ramsey Lewis and guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli pay tribute to the titan of 1950s vocal pop in a concert featuring Cole’s hits along with those singular tracks of sophisticated cool jazz that have influenced their own recordings.

“We have a hard time imagining anyone recapturing the magic of sterling jazz pianist and pop-idol crooner Nat King Cole in quite the way that piano vet Ramsey Lewis and string-swing star John Pizzarelli do,” writes a critic for Time Out New York.

The concert includes Cole standards such as “Route 66,” “Smile,” “Hit That Jive Jack,” “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons,” “Nature Boy,” and “Unforgettable.”

Adult $48
University Park Student $15
18 and Younger $38

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Secondary Events on Each Event

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Thursday, October 13, 2016

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.