UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Jazz great Duke Ellington was based out of the Cotton Club in Harlem, but he and his band also traveled the world.
Now a concert series celebrating the international side of Duke Ellington is at the Rose Theatre at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
From the Bluebird of Delhi in Ellington’s Far East Suite to the song, I like the Sunrise from his Liberian Suite to The Sleeping Lady and The Giant who Watches over Her from Ellington’s Latin American Suite.
Duke Ellington played with musicians all over the world and he wrote music for all different cultures.
At this Internationally Ellington concert, the musicians range in age from 18 to 66 and are led by a 23-year-old pianist and composer Joe Block.
“It’s so global,” Block, the bandleader, told PIX11 News. “This concert was all about reaching different cultures in different countries. There are so many different influences in Ellington’s music, but they still have the Duke touch in them.”
Block was the Essentially Ellington composition winner seven years ago.
Another winner last year was Florida’s Osceola County school of the arts, with 18-year-old Nathanial Williford playing the trumpet.
“I am surrounded by musicians that are miles ahead, constantly learning from mentors in the band,” Williford told PIX11 News. “Doors are opening up for me and for a lot of us back home,” he added.
One of those mentors is a 66-year-old drummer from New Orleans named Harlin Riley.
“We have to have growth in America’s art form,” Riley told PIX11 News. “The only way the music perpetuates and grows is through the younger people,” he added.
Another trumpet player, Grace Fox, added, “he really wrote for each person in the band. “Being able to emulate that with this band is really special.”
Internationally Ellington continues Saturday night at Rose Hall at Jazz At Lincoln Center.
The Essentially Ellington Jazz Band Competition and Festival will be held this year from May 11 through May 13.
For tickets to Internationally Ellington, visit jazz.org.