Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Presents A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald At Harris Center

"The best jazz repertory band in the country” (The New Yorker) honors The First Lady of Song—Ella Fitzgerald—by seizing a special moment in American history.

Pulling original, little played arrangements done for Ella in the ‘40s and ‘50s—charts penned by superstar arrangers such as Billy May, Count Basie, Billy Strayhorn and Benny Carter— Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the ever-elegant Kim Nazarian will join together in an evening at Harris Center for the Arts of “fascinating rarities...each played with as much skill as authenticity” (Chicago Tribune).

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them to the hilt.

Called "Culturally important...spectacular musically... Precise, intelligent and straightforward" by the New York Times, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) was founded in 1990 with an appropriation from the U.S. Congress in recognition of the importance of jazz in American cultural and its status as a national treasure. The orchestra, led by Artistic and Musical Director, David N. Baker, serves as the orchestra-in-residence at the National Museum of American History, Division of Cultural History.
The orchestra re-creates big band jazz as its composers and arrangers intended it to be played, stripping away intervening changes and alterations.

“Bless you, child. Keep singing.” Such was the encouragement jazz vocalist Kim Nazarian received during a brief but unforgettable encounter with her idol, Ella Fitzgerald. A native “up-state” New Yorker and Magna Cum Laude graduate of Ithaca College, Kim is a founding member of the Grammy award-winning group New York Voices, formed in 1987. She has recorded numerous CD’s and toured the world with this outstanding vocal quartet. For their most recent project, the group took on the role of featured artist with Paquito D’Rivera on his latest release for the MCG Jazz label; Brazilian Dreams. Ms. Nazarian is also a featured artist on a number of other CD’s released on the MCG Jazz label, including Afternoon In Rio with Joe Negri, The 21st Century Swing Band, and the highly acclaimed A Nancy Wilson Christmas.

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: A TRIBUTE TO ELLA FITZGERALD will be performed on Sunday, February 26, 2014 at 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at $25-$39; Premium $45; Students with ID $12. Tickets are available online at  or from Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 10 am to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.

Blog Post information and picture courtesy of Harris Center for the Arts.

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