Drew Nugent is a Philly musician who is throwin’ back — way back — to the earliest days of jazz with his band Drew Nugent and The Midnight Society. Known for his high energy performances, where he doubles on trumpet and keys, his virtuosity and charisma is transfixing. This Wednesday, Nugent celebrates the release of his latest album, “Hot, Sassy and Sweet” at Vesper in Center City. We chatted with the Blue Bell native about “getting naughty” with song selection, where to hunt for vintage instruments and why you’ll never find him in jeans and a T-shirt.
When you're out and about, you're always dressed to the nines. Do you ever break from suits on the weekend?
About five years ago I realized I have nothing but suits! So why even wear jeans and a T-shirt unless I’m washing the car or doing yard work? (laughs) As long as I have it my way, you’ll never see me out of one. I grew up with a father that had a great wardrobe of suit and ties, and from a young age I decided when I go out into the world, I wanted to be in a suit like him.
That’s really sweet. Now riffing on that theme, what makes the new album “hot, sassy and sweet?”
So the whole idea behind “hot jazz” was that the temperature of the rooms would get hot from the music. A/C was nonexistent and the emotional power of the music combined with the heavy syncopation really fired people up. The “sweet” music of that time was more like foxtrots and slower ballads. More romantic.
So what time period are we talking here?
Hot jazz came into popularity in the late teens at the death of ragtime and the beginning of WWI. It stayed popular through 1920s until the mid-30s when the swing era took over. It’s the purest form of jazz. The earliest form of jazz. (pause) When we think of jazz today, artists that came later in its history have become the staples, like Miles and Ella and Dizzy, and sadly, they overshadow the hot jazz artists.