Sights and sounds of Nat King Cole coming to Ottumwa

Maurice Jacox will be performing the popular songs of Nat King Cole in "Straighten up and Fly Right".

Just a few weeks ago, the Rat Pack came to the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, now they're bringing the big band and jazz style of Nat King Cole.

Maurice Jacox is a singer, dancer and musician from Minnesota who stars in the show "Straighten Up & Fly Right", which features 21 of Cole's most notable songs, as well as provides a narration on the details of his life many aren't aware of. Cole became famous in a racially motivated time in our history, when, as a rich man, he could not stay at the same hotels as his white band mates.

"Straighten Up & Fly Right" is a complete tribute to the master class musician he was.

"This is music from a generation in time that you don't see much any more. Music is fairly formulaic and this is the time when music had true artistry and people wrote songs that lasted the test of time," Jacox said. "Nowadays, people write songs that people forget in a few months or tap their toe for a little while. Imagine writing songs that people tap their toes to 40 years from now. The closest parallel is perhaps the Beatles, but there was a time in America when many songwriters wrote music like this and what made Nat King Cole so special is his knack for recording songs that no one wanted."

One such song is one of Nat King Cole's most famous, "Mona Lisa", which was turned down by several famous artists before Nat King Cole recorded it.

Jacox's show is as authentic as you can get, with each of the 21 songs recorded note-for-note for sheet music from Cole's original recordings. Jacox himself had around six months to learn all the music and just a few days to learn the pages of narration.

And if you're looking for an endorsement, Jacox said the show is so good, if he wasn't in it, he'd pay money to go see it.

"Straighten Up & Fly Right" will be preformed at 7:30 p.m. on April 26th at the Bridge View Center. For tickets, call the box office at 684-7000.