Jazz Series in Chicago Celebrates Armstrong, Ellington and Gillespie

legends as well as look to future in upcoming performances

Jon Faddis

The 11th American Heritage Jazz Series continues over the first few months of 2010 with celebrations of the music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie, and collaborations between James Moody and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble (CJE).

Led by artistic director Jon Faddis-who has performed and recorded with Ellington-the CJE will give a show titled “The Great Summit: The Music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington” on Friday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The concert is the next installment in the series which began in August and has highlighted the work of Benny Goodman, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman, among others.

The CJE will perform Armstrong classics including “What a Wonderful World” and “Stardust,” and Ellington favorites such as “The Mooche” and “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”. The concert will also serve as the official kick off for the third annual Louis Armstrong Legacy Program and Celebration, which is the CJE’s educational initiative for students in Chicago Public Schools. All concert attendees are invited to arrive an hour early for a free pre-show conversation with Faddis and jazz critic Neil Tesser.

The next chapter in the series comes in March, with an explorative show titled “Jazz: Past, Present and Future.” The evening will serve as the American premier of Faddis’ “Teranga” compositions which were arranged for big band by Michael Philip Mossman. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 5, also at the Harris Theater.

April will bring a close to the series, with Grammy-nominated James Moody’s sax and vocal performance with the CJE at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library Center on Friday, April 16. A companion show will be performed the following night at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. As a special addition, the CJE will present original Dizzy Gillespie charts from Faddis’ own library, and new arrangements of Moody’s classics commissioned by the CJE.

The CJE is comprised of Dan Nicholson, Jarrard Harris, Pat Mallinger, Rob Denty and Tim McNamara in the saxophone section; Audrey Morrison, Tim Coffman, Tracy Kirk, and Thomas Matta on trombones; Mark Olen, Larry Bowen, Art Hoyle and Pharez Whitted on trumpets; Jeremy Kahn on piano; Frank Dawson on guitar; Dan Anderson on bass; music director and drummer Dana Hall; and vocalist Bobbi Wilsyn.

Tickets for performances at the Harris Theater, located on Chicago’s Millennium Park, are $15 to $45, and can be purchased on Harris Theater or by calling (312) 334-7777. Discounts are available for senior citizens, students and groups. Tickets for the Moody show are $25 and can be purchased on Ticket Web. More information can be found on Chicago Jazz Ensemble.

Originally Published