When Mercer Ellington heard Cleve Douglass sing his father's songs at Lincoln Center, he was so impressed that he called him the premiere vocal interpreter of Duke Ellingtons music. In addition, he presented Douglass with three of the composers songs that had never been recorded--songs that were being worked on when Duke Ellington died in 1974.
Three years after meeting Mercer, the transplanted New Yorker decided to make his debut album a tribute to Duke Ellington. Upon hearing Duke Ellington Boulevard, some music critics are convinced the prolific genius would have been attracted to Cleve Douglass' artistry and gone on to work with him, just as his son Mercer Ellington did.
On Sunday, April 30, 2006, Douglass will be in Chicago to perform some of Ellington's works during the 32nd Annual Duke Ellington Tribute Concert, in the James R. Thompson Center Assembly Hall, 100 West Randolph Street, produced by Jazz Unites Inc.
Historically, this is the concert that launched the popular free music festivals in Chicago's parks. Celebrating Duke Ellington's genius was what Jazz Unites Founder Geraldine de Haas had in mind in 1974 when she and a group of fellow jazz lovers produced the first jazz music concert at the Grant Park Music Shell following his death. That concert became the forerunner of the annual Chicago Jazz Festival as well as the Blues, Gospel, Latin and other free outdoor music festivals in Chicago's downtown parks. It also launched the Jazz Unites organization.
I'm just thrilled that Ms. de Haas asked me to come to Chicago to perform in a tribute to Duke Ellington," says Douglass. Her brother, Andy Bey, is my favorite vocalist, so this is a real honor."
Also performing on the bill is educator, musician and conductor Ron Carter of Northern Illinois University. Dr. Carter will bring his big band sound to the iconic building for the world premiere performance of his latest compositionan--an Ellingtonesque piece for full jazz orchestra underwritten by the Boeing Company. Carter is Mid America Coordinator for the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition sponsored by Jazz at The Lincoln Center in New York.
I have long dreamed of JUI underwriting original jazz compositions and premiering them in live settings, ideally bringing seasoned musicians together with up and coming artists. I am thrilled Boeing enabled us to launch such a program in this year's tribute to Duke Ellington, who was instrumental in keeping this music genre alive and strong," states de Haas.
The concert, which starts at 4:00 p.m., is preceded by a reception at 3:00 p.m. Tickets for the Duke Ellington Tribute are $75 for patrons, $40 for general admission, $35 for JUI members and seniors, and $15 for students.
For more information, call JUI at 773-734-2000 or visit the Web site at www.jazzunitesinc.org.