Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Ellington Jazz Christmas with HSU Jazz Orchestra

The HSU Jazz Orchestra presents a rare treat, the entire Duke Ellington version of the Nutcracker Suite, along with a composition by an Arcata High grad and a possible world premiere of a rediscovered piece by a jazz pioneer, on Saturday December 11 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

Duke Ellington and his composing partner Billy Strayhorn arranged Tchaikovsky’s famous nine-movement Nutcracker Suite for jazz orchestra in 1960. “This was no mere ‘jazzing the classics’ novelty,” said HSU Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag. “They treat the original with respect but not reverence. The suite is witty in places and sublimely beautiful in others.”

Also on the program is “Recollection” by Arcata native and Arcata High graduate Nathan Smith, who leads a 10-piece band in New York and has won several composition awards.

Then the Jazz Orchestra plays what Aldag believes may be a world premiere of a long-lost work by the first great jazz composer and pianist, Jelly Roll Morton. A star in the 1920s, Morton attempted a comeback in the late 30s by writing music for the big band format. He put together a band to play it but collapsed the night it was to be performed. One of these compositions, called “Ganjam,” has only recently been published for a large ensemble, “so it’s possible that this will be the first performance of ‘Ganjam’ as Morton wrote it,” Aldag said.

Two nights before the Jazz Orchestra concert, the smaller ensemble called the AM Jazz Band plays arrangements of jazz classics by Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Shavers and Mongo Santamaria, as well as Maria Schneider’s “This ‘n That.”

The AM Jazz Band performs on Thursday December 9 and the HSU Jazz Orchestra plays on Saturday December 11. Both concerts start at 8pm in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets for each concert are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID. Dan Aldag directs the AM Jazz Band and HSU Jazz Orchestra, produced by the HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now, TriCity Weekly

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