The Cary Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. presented an evening of jazz at the Cary Theater, featuring vocalist Connie McCoy and the band Mo’ Jazz. Proceeds from the gala contributed directly toward the Kappa’s mentorship and scholarship programs for college-bound high school students. The intimate venue of the Cary Theater was perfect for this laid-back and fun benefit concert.

Mo’ Jazz was formed by McCoy herself in Cary in 2013. Since then, they have been playing numerous shows and events in the Triangle area. This versatile ensemble also features Derrek Croney on keys, drummer Rick Lindsay, lead guitarist Kenny Demery, and Reggie Jessup on bass. Each of these five musicians has years of experience besides performing as Mo’ Jazz, as well as a wealth of musical influences that enhance the programming of their concerts. This concert was no exception. Although the program began with classic jazz selections, other works from gospel, R&B, and contemporary jazz genres were also featured throughout the night, creating a wonderful variety. 

Before McCoy appeared onstage to sing her first selection, the instrumentalists of Mo’ Jazz opened with the classic “Summertime,” richly “sung” by Demery’s lyrical guitar. McCoy’s entrance at the latter half of this song featured the softer, subtler tones of her voice, along with improvisation and scat singing. Continuing in the genre of classic jazz, the band performed “Fly Me to the Moon,” an audience favorite. Before the intermission, the genres of blues and gospel were explored, the latter with a strong rendition of Kirk Franklin’s “Gonna Be a Lovely Day.”

The second half of the concert featured more contemporary jazz and R&B selections, showcasing bolder musical interpretations from the band and McCoy’s formidable vocal range. A notable moment occurred when McCoy wished her mother (in the audience) a happy birthday with a snippet of Whitney Houston’s standard “I Will Always Love You,” which definitely left the audience wanting more. Some featured R&B selections were Marvin Gaye’s “Make Me Wanna Holler” and “Just the Two of Us” (originally sung by Grover Washington Jr.). Songs such as these were used in the concert as an uplifting platform to tastefully comment on the recent tragedies that have occurred around the country.

To end the evening, Mo’ Jazz performed a unique take on the song “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, infusing it with a slightly Spanish groove reminiscent of the samba. Altogether, the concert was joyful and energetic thanks to the versatility and musicality of Mo’ Jazz.