Tribute to Ellington planned at music hall

May 06, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Surely, Duke Ellington would have loved "madly" all the hoopla surrounding his 100th birthday.

Among the many concerts honoring the elegant composer's birth April 29 was a tribute by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at Kennedy Center in Washington.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will offer another Ellington concert in June, conducted by Marvin Hamlisch.

And locally, John Tegler, the broadcaster who says he has "spent a lifetime studying Ellington and his music," will narrate a concert telling the Ellington story Sunday at Chesapeake Music Hall as part of the Jazz at the Music Hall Series.

Thirteen musicians, led by drummer Brooks Tegler, John's son, and saxophonist Scott Silbert, will include Ellington favorites such as "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Take the A Train" as well as lesser-known works such as "Warm Valley," "Blue Reverie," "New York City Blues" and "Sultry Serenade."

Silbert and Tegler are longtime friends who brought the musicians together to form the orchestra and made an audition tape that quickly sold the concert at a number of locations.

A Washington native, Ellington is known not only for jazz works but as a composer of serious music. He is ranked among the best of the 20th century.

Marsalis, a composer, educator and honorary chairman of the Duke Ellington Centennial Commission, described Ellington's orchestra as "one of the great achievements in the history of art."

Ellington once provided insight into his wide-ranging efforts when he told an interviewer: "To me, jazz means simply freedom of musical speech."

And he gave us a peek into his ebullient on-stage appearance when he was asked at age 72 if he wasn't tired of living on trains and playing gigs every night.

"I look at it this way," Ellington said. "Somebody throws a party every night, and I'm the guest of honor."

Ellington's spirit has been the guest of honor for this concert at four places in Washington and Northern Virginia, and Tegler is to take the show on the road.

But it won't get any closer to us than the music hall on Busch's Frontage Road off U.S. 50.

Admission is $22 in advance or $24 at the door. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. Drinks, snacks and desserts will be sold.

Information: 800-406-0306 or 410-626-7515.

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