The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra presents a national tour in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, “The First Lady of Song.” The big band orchestra-in-residence at the National Museum of American History will bring arrangements—many of which have not been heard by live audiences in 40 years—to venues in eight U.S states, from New York to California.
Fitzgerald (1917-1996) was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century with 13 Grammy awards and more than 40 million albums sold. Her voice was described as flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. The SJMO, together with regional musicians and alternating vocalists Peabody Conservatory alum, Delores King Williams and New York Voices co-founder, Kim Nazarian, will pay tribute to her elegant style and vocal expertise.
“The orchestra’s mission is to explore, present and promote the legacy of jazz and to enrich the public's understanding of this unique American treasure,” said Kennith Kimery, the orchestra’s executive director. “The repertoire for this tour is centered on a special moment in American history by relying on original arrangements done for Fitzgerald in the 1940s and 1950s preserved in the Smithsonian and Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation archives.”
Superstar arrangers such as Billy May, Count Basie, Van Alexander, Billy Strayhorn and Benny Carter make up the majority of the selections. Additionally, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra commissioned new arrangements that keep the spirit of the body of work represented from Fitzgerald’s songbook while adding a sense of contemporariness to round out this unique show.
Tickets are required and may be purchased in advance at the performing venues.
Friday, Jan. 31, 8 – 10 p.m.
James Lumber Center – Mainstage Theatre, Grayslake, Illinois; http://jlc.clcillinois.edu
Saturday, Feb. 1, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Dorothy Menker Theater – Performing Arts Center at Kent State, Palos Hills, Illinois; www.morainevalley.edu/FPAC
Friday, Feb. 7, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Kent State Performing Arts Center at Kent State, New Philadelphia, Ohio; www.tusc.kent.edu/pac
Friday, Feb. 25, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Cascade Theater, Redding, Calif.; www.cascadetheatre.org
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, Folsom, Calif.; www.threestages.net
Friday, Feb. 28, 8 – 10 p.m.
Harman Hall, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; www.calpolyarts.org
Saturday, Mar. 1, 8 – 10 p.m.
Fox Theatre, Tucson, Ariz.; www.uapresents.org
Monday, Mar. 3, 8 – 10 p.m.
McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts, Palm Desert, Calif.; www.mccallumtheatre.com
Friday, Mar. 21, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Phillips Center, Gainesville, Fla.; www.performingarts.ufl.edu
Sunday, Mar. 23, 7 – 9 p.m.
Artis-Naples, Naples, Fla.; www.artsnaples.org
Thursday, April 3, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Dreyfoods Hall, West Palm Beach, Fla.; www.kravis.org
Friday, April 25, 8 – 10 p.m.
Ferguson Center Concert Hall, Newport News, Va.; www.brooklyncenter.com
Sunday, April 27, 3 – 5 p.m.
Whitman Theatre, Brooklyn, N.Y.; www.newmancenterpresents.com
Saturday, May 10, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 11, 2 – 4 p.m.
Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, Colo.; www.newmancenterpresents.com
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu.