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Duke Ellington Performance Series Continues With SUCH SWEET THUNDER

Duke Ellington Performance Series Continues With SUCH SWEET THUNDER

Jazz great Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder, a twelve-part jazz suite based on the work of William Shakespeare, will be explored in the next edition of the Duke Ellington Performance Series on Sunday, April 19 at Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West 44th Street, 5:30-7pm.

This special performance event will feature The Duke Ellington Center Big Band conducted by Eugene Gwozdz, with appearances by Miles Purinton and jazz vocalists Marion Cowings, Sharon K. Janda, and Antoinette Montague. Tap dancers DeWitt Fleming Jr., AC Lincoln, Karen Callaway William and members of the Tap City Youth Ensemble, plus ballroom dancers Yurly Nartov and Enxhi Fundo and others, will also join the cast.

The Duke Ellington Performance Series is presented by Mercedes Ellington, Artistic Director/Founder of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, Inc., in association with Tony Waag, Artistic Director of The American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF). "Tap and jazz are undeniably attached at the hip," said Mr. Waag, who is curating the tap dance portion of the Ellington performance series. Duke Ellington was inducted into the ATDF International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2017.

In August 1956, Duke Ellington and his orchestra were in Canada, performing in the same city as the ongoing Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Curious about the Festival, Ellington and his longtime composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn talked to Festival staffers, and soon Ellington announced his next album project would be a conceptual piece, paying tribute to Shakespeare's varied works with appropriate jazz compositions. Ellington and Strayhorn began building a home library of Shakespeare, seeking out Shakespeare experts and reading through the canon during orchestra down time. In addition to the "Such Sweet Thunder" album, Ellington promised the entire suite would be performed at the 1957 edition of the festival. The "Such Sweet Thunder" suite was written in just under three weeks and recorded in early 1957.


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