The Joel Martin Quintet touched down at Lucy's 51 in Toluca Lake recently with their loose, pleasurable jazz, but they were nearly upstaged by an energetic group of a cappella upstarts.
The crowd is normally too loud and tipsy by 11 p.m. to appreciate any genre of music, much less jazz, but the majority stood at attention for a vocals-only sextet called Simply Put. Wedged in between two languid yet listenable sets by Joel Martin's elastic ensemble, the ragtag crooners made old standards new again. Their somewhat obvious song choices are transformed into walls of sound especially appealing to aficionados of intricate harmonies.
Simply Put's versions of show tunes like "Seasons of Love" (better known as the "525,600 minutes" song from "Rent") and "Put on a Happy Face" were incongruous, but mixed well with modern a capella reworkings like Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." But classics like "Route 66" and "Blue Skies" were far more appealing converted to their formula than a shrill 1980s medley that included songs that should have stayed forgotten like "Push it to the Limit" from the movie "Scarface."