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Birdland to Kick Off Monthly Performance Series Honoring Duke Ellington

Live jazz and tap dancing will both be featured; the first installment is Aug. 4

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington

On Sunday, Aug. 4, Birdland in New York City will kick off a monthly performance series honoring the music of Duke Ellington. 

The first performance in the series, “Ellington on Broadway,” which begins at 5:30 p.m., will include songs from the musicals Play On and Sophisticated Ladies. The show will feature vocalists and tap dancers backed by the Duke Ellington Center Big Band, which is conducted by Frank Owens. 

The series will be hosted by Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke and founder of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, along with Tony Waag, artistic director of the American Tap Dance Foundation.

“The Ellington performance series celebrates a marriage of jazz music and tap dance, and Duke Ellington is a key figure in the perpetuation of the idea that tap dance is music and tap dancers are indeed musicians that create music with their feet,” Waag said in a press release. “Tap and jazz are undeniably attached at the hip.”

The second concert in the series, which takes place on Sept. 1, is called “Sacred Sunday: The Gospel According to Ellington.”


To buy tickets to the first event, visit

JazzTimes 10: Read Michael J. West’s list of the 10 best albums of Ellington’s final 10 years.