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Stage: theater, music, dance

April 01, 2004

Black musical tradition

As part of an extraordinary, two-day symposium going on this weekend - "The Golden Age: Garrett Jacobs Mansion, Mount Vernon Place and Baltimore, 1800-1930" - a lecture/performance will focus on the city's African-American musical heritage. This event, featuring Peabody Conservatory archivist Elizabeth Schaaf and jazz flutist Delandria Mills and her ensemble, promises an in-depth exploration of the black musicians who contributed to Baltimore's cultural life.

"When you say you're going to talk about the African-American musical tradition here, people think you're only going to talk about jazz," Schaaf says. "There certainly was a vibrant jazz scene here, but that's only part of the scene."

Schaaf's lecture will recall soprano Anne Brown, who created the role of Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess; classically trained jazz pianist Ellis Larkins; jazz vocalist Ethel Ennis; the black musicians who played the classics with concert bands in the afternoon and jammed at Baltimore's jazz clubs at night; A. Jack Thomas one of the first African-Americans to lead an Army band; the inimitable entertainer Cab Calloway; and many more.

"The African American Musical Tradition in Baltimore" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute, 847 N. Howard St. Tickets are $20. Call 410-433-0354.

- Tim Smith


Center Stage audiences will be treated to the first David Mamet play in the theater's 41-season history when Speed-the-Plow begins performances there tomorrow.

This scathing look at Hollywood is written by a playwright with enough Tinseltown experience to know whereof he writes. Among Mamet's screenwriting credits are: The Untouchables, Hoffa, Wag the Dog and the just-released Spartan, not to mention his screen adaptations of his own plays, such as Glengarry Glen Ross and Oleanna. Speed-the-Plow, however, which made its debut on Broadway in 1988, has yet to make it to the silver screen.

Directed by Daniel Fish, Center Stage's production stars Lindsay Campbell, David Chandler and Vincent Guastaferro.

Show times at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. most Sundays; matinees at 2 p.m. most Saturdays and Sundays, through May 2. Tickets are $10-$55. For more information, call 410-332-0033.

- J. Wynn Rousuck

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