Show Review

Cynthia Layne

Indiana History Center

Thursday, June 30

A brief summer shower wasn't enough to dampen spirits at the June 30 edition of Concerts on the Canal, featuring Cynthia Layne. Spread out on blankets on the hill, sitting in front of the stage, or just filling up the steps, an all-ages crowd of several hundred braved the humidity and spurt of rain for the latest in the free concert series, held behind the Indiana History Center.

Layne is one of this city's jazz luminaries, and she did not disappoint with her blend of classic jazz, soul and songs that spiral out into complex and multilayered rhythms. She brought a unique take on her covers as well, especially a slow, relaxed reading of "Proud Mary."

Layne possesses a big, booming voice that can fill the broad expanse of the area, even on the most low-key, intimate songs. She's aided by the distinctive acoustics of the venue; the broad hill, Government Center walls and the canal itself create a powerful acoustic canyon that bounces the sound around the space evenly. I was looking around for speakers behind the hill before I realized it was the echo itself.

Her singers and backing band distinguished themselves as well, with numerous improvisational solos putting everyone in the spotlight at some point.

Concerts on the Canal continues with a different artist every Thursday through Aug. 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Indiana History Center.

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