In a city where the jazz scene is thriving with the genre's traditional sounds, the Columbus-based Whirlybirds are bringing a modern spin that resonates in a big way.
In 2016, Joseph Brenneman, Joe Gilliland and Trent Sampson decided to form a new group after their previous project, the DewDroppers, disbanded.
After adding trumpet player Nick Simko, drummer Max Marsillo and keyboardist Jacob Campbell, the group rebranded and began to build a repertoire of songs, numbers that are "poppy, catchy and ... make you feel good," said band leader Gilliland.
Adding modern pop and jazz spins to Dixieland songs (and vice versa) is one of the things that give Whirlybirds its identity. Additionally, band members' affinity for musical genres outside the realm of jazz, including funk, R&B, ska and even punk, should help them satisfy any musical taste.
When describing the band's show, Brenneman said the Whirlybirds aim to "play truly to ourselves while on stage." Combined with their excellent musicianship, this personal element brings out a side of Whirlybirds' members that brings them closer with the community they call home.
Brenneman also describes the jazz scene in Columbus to be "very inviting and inclusive. ... It creates an environment where people can experiment and try new things musically."
Because modern sounds are integrated with swing and jazz arrangements, the Whirlybirds inject a breath of fresh air into the already exciting jazz side of the Columbus music scene.
The aim is to create "a broad appeal with this kind of music. Age 9 or 90, on the lawn at the library or late night in the bar, there's a little something for everybody," Gilliland said.
The Whirlybirds' show manages to do just that.
"At the end of the day, making that connection with people is what it's all about," Gilliland said.
The Whirlybirds will appear at Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza and Live Music, 5601 N. High St. in Worthington, at 10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. General admission is $10 and reserved seats are $12.
James Harker helps write the weekly In The Record Store column, which focuses on central Ohio music discovery and involvement.