In observance of Black History Month, the 2nd Thursday Concert Series will present an evening of Duke Ellington’s music on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. in Hodgson Hall, Performing Arts Center.
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in Washington, D.C., to a middle-class family. In his teens, he learned to play piano in the East Coast stride style and began working in small combos before starting his first band, the Duke’s Serenaders, in 1917. He moved to New York in 1923, where he began a career that spanned six decades. Ellington and his band, the Washingtonians, established themselves in various New York clubs. In 1927, the Ellington band began a five-year contract as the house band for the Cotton Club in Harlem.
Many of Ellington’s pieces are part of the standard jazz repertoire, such as “Satin Doll,” “Take the A Train,” “Ko-Ko,” “Crescendo in Blue” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Ellington is noted for expanding jazz composition from three-minute dance tunes to longer art pieces with such masterworks as “Black and Tan Fantasy” and “Black, Brown and Beige,” and hybrids of classical music and jazz, such as “The River,” “Harlem Suite” and “Deep South Suite.” Ellington also composed the film score for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder.
Performing the Duke’s music will be faculty members Steve Dancz and Thomas McCutchen, with guest artists Sam Skelton, woodwinds, and Trey Wright, guitar. Skelton and Wright, both active in the Atlanta music scene, are currently teaching jazz studies in the School of Music. Joining them will be the UGA Jazz Band, directed by Dancz, the UGA Salsa Band, directed by McCutchen, and Classic City Jazz, directed by Mitos Andaya.
The UGA Jazz Band has performed by invitation at the 1999 Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, and the Vienne Jazz Festival in Vienne, France.
Performing regularly in concert with the UGA Jazz Band, the Salsa Band specializes in traditional salsa music and Latin jazz. In this concert they will perform Ellington’s “Caravan.”
Classic City Jazz, UGA’s premier vocal and instrumental jazz combo, will perform great Ellington hits such as the bluesy “Time’s A-Wastin’ ” and the up-beat “Cottontail.” The singers, known for their a cappella prowess, will present the classic “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”