Jazz at the Circle
After a Tony-winning performance as Aaron Burr in the Broadway hit musical Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. is ready to take on the world. His new album, the self-titled Leslie Odom Jr. — just released on S-Curve Records — puts his beautiful vocal range on display. Songs range from show tunes to jazz classics. On September 6, Odom will appear at Sessions at the Circle, a free concert series at The Shops at Columbus Circle. Odom sat down with us to talk about jazz, his inspirations, and more.
Q: It's been a big year for you. What was the highlight so far?
A: Performing at the White House. We had to keep pinching ourselves. Tony night was pretty special, too. It felt like such a long road to get there.
Q: Tell us about your new CD. What was the inspiration?
A: It's my heart on a record. It is self-titled because it feels like an honest representation of my voice and almost everything I like about the craft of singing.
Q: Describe your sound.
A: So much of my sound revolves around the drum and percussion instruments. It has to make me want to dance. Outside of that, I hope the sound is always emotional, always surprising, and always inspiring.
Q: What can we look forward to during your performance at Sessions at the Circle?
A: Connection. It's always at the heart of my work. I want to know you. And I want you to get to know me.
Q: You're going to be performing at one of New York's style hubs. Describe your own personal style.
A: I hope I am known as a well dressed man. It is what I strive to be in the personal style department.
Q: How did you get to where you are?
A: Perseverance. Prayer. Practice.
Q: What was your inspiration to get into music and acting?
A: Nothing moved me like the arts. I wanted to be a part of it. I started taking classes and observing the people I admired most.
Q: Hamilton has introduced a new generation to the Broadway musical — a true American art form. How can we introduce the younger generation to jazz, which is also a true American art form?
A: Find young performers who are committed to the art form. There's bound to be one of them whom your kids will find a connection with. Like the theater, jazz always has young blood committed to making it relevant and vital.
Q: What are your words of wisdom about listening to jazz?
A: Start with the greats. Music is an aural tradition passed from generation to generation from heart to heart. There's so much to fall in love with. Ella, Miles, Sarah, Mel, Coltrane...dive in! Go where inspiration takes you. You're sure to find something you love. Guaranteed.
Sessions at the Circle takes place Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. on the second floor of The Shops at Columbus Circle, culminating on September 6 with Leslie Odom Jr.’s performance. For more information, go here.