Today, on the eve of 112th anniversary of Duke Ellington's birth, New York City Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center are pleased to announce a new producing partnership that will combine the organizations' specialties: musical theater and jazz. The collaborative venture will begin this fall at City Center with Cotton Club Parade, a celebration of Ellington's years at the famed Harlem nightclub. Presented under the auspices of City Center's acclaimed Encores! series and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Cotton Club Parade will be directed by Warren Carlyle and will feature the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, who also serves as music director. It will play for six performances, November 18-22, 2011. Tickets will go on sale Monday, August 15 at City Center.
Harlem's famed Cotton Club presented annual revues that featured big band swing and blues, dancers, singers, comedians and novelty acts throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Duke Ellington and his orchestra began a four-year residency in 1927 and continued making guest appearances throughout the 1930s. As in the original revues, the Cotton Club Parade will feature singers, dancers and variety acts (to be announced).
Future productions will be presented biannually at each other's venues. The next production is scheduled for the 2013-14 season at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater.
"We are thrilled to be collaborating with Jazz at Lincoln Center to develop new projects involving artists from both the jazz and theater worlds," said City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler. "It's especially exciting that City Center will be presenting Cotton Club Parade as the first Encores! event in our beautiful, newly renovated theater."
Laura Johnson, Executive Producer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, said, "We are delighted to work with City Center to celebrate these two uniquely American musical idioms - jazz and musical theater. From the early 20th century theatrical jazz of Ellington's Cotton Club floor shows to Tin Pan Alley to the jazz-drenched scores of mid-century book musicals, jazz and musical theater have succeeded in entertaining audiences with some of the most enduring and sophisticated music ever produced by American composers and lyricists."
Duke Ellington influenced millions of people around the world and at home. During the course of his 50-year career, he composed more than 3,000 songs and played more than 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. He gave American music its own sound for the first time with popular hits such as "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing," "Sophisticated Lady," "Mood Indigo," "Solitude," "In a Mellotone," and "Satin Doll." Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966 and later earned several other prizes, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, composed of 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1987. Featured in all aspects of the organization's programming, the remarkably versatile Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs and leads concert and educational events in New York, across the U.S. and around the world and with many of the world's leading symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, local students and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists. Education is a major part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's mission and its educational activities are coordinated with concert and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra tour programming.
Under Music Director Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra spends over half of the year on tour and performs a vast repertoire, from rare historic compositions to Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works by guest artists and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members.
To date, 14 recordings featuring the orchestra, under the former name of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, have been released and internationally distributed: Vitoria Suite (2010), Portrait in Seven Shades (2010), Congo Square (2007), Don't Be Afraid...The Music of Charles Mingus (2005), A Love Supreme (2005), All Rise (2002), Big Train (1999), Sweet Release & Ghost Story (1999), Live in Swing City (1999), Jump Start and Jazz (1997), Blood on the Fields (1997), They Came to Swing (1994), The Fire of the Fundamentals (1993), and Portraits by Ellington (1992).
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is: Music Director and Trumpet: Wynton Marsalis; Trumpets: Ryan Kisor, Marcus Printup, Kenny Rampton; Trombones: Chris Crenshaw, Vincent Gardner, Elliot Mason; Reeds: Walter Blanding, Victor Goines, Sherman Irby, Ted Nash, Joe Temperley; Piano: Dan Nimmer; Bass: Carlos Henriquez; Drums: Ali Jackson.
Warren Carlyle directed and choreographed the Encores! production of Finian's Rainbow and its subsequent Broadway production. He choreographed the Encores! productions of On the Town, Juno and Stairway to Paradise, and directed and choreographed the Broadway production of A Tale of Two Cities and the world premiere of Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin at the La Jolla Playhouse.
New York City Center (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city for more than 60 years. It was Manhattan's first performing arts center, dedicated by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1943 with a mission to make the best in music, theater and dance accessible to all audiences. Today, City Center is home to many distinguished companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Manhattan Theatre Club; a roster of renowned national and international visiting artists; and its own critically acclaimed and popular programs. The Tony-honored Encores! musical theater series has been hailed as "one of the very best reasons to be alive in New York." Dance has been integral to the theater's mission from the start, and dance programs, including the annual Fall for Dance Festival and a partnership with London's Sadler's Wells Theatre, remain central to City Center's identity. City Center is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to New York City students and teachers with programs such as Encores! In Schools and the Young People's Dance Series. Special workshops cater to families, seniors and other groups, while events such as the Fall for Dance DanceTalk series offer learning opportunities to the general public. City Center is currently undergoing an extensive renovation project to revitalize and modernize its historic theater. A grand reopening gala is scheduled for October 25.
Cotton Club Parade will run for six performances, November 18-22, 2011, according to the following schedule: Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm, Sunday at 6:30pm, Monday and Tuesday at 7pm. Tickets start at $25 and go on sale Monday, August 15. Further information is available at NYCityCenter.org and jalc.org.