Duking It Out
Third annual tribute to Mr. Ellington.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Imagine throwing 10 musicians onstage who haven’t rehearsed together and getting them to dig deep into the repertoire of one of America’s finest composers. It sounds like a recipe for disaster—unless you’ve assembled the best local and regional jazz musicians around. Organizer Phillip Crawford has done precisely that for his Third Annual Tribute to Duke Ellington show at Monterey Live (while funneling all proceeds to Creating Hope International, an organization that provides health care for women and children caught in the Afghanistan conflict).
“The thing about these [musicians],” he says, “is they are so good that they don’t need to rehearse.”
Crawford is referring to an all-star band that includes himself on piano, vocalist Lee Durley, vocalist Julie Capili, saxophone player Roger Eddy, bassist Heath Proskin, guitarist Gino Raugi, jazz flutist Kenny Stahl and drummer Andy Weis. In addition, the ensemble features San Francisco’s Kotomi Abe on vocals and Eric Shifrin, the house pianist of The Fairmont San Francisco.
Most of the evening will find the musicians performing together in different combinations onstage. “It’s kind of like a variety show,” Crawford says.
The hardest thing for the tribute band might be deciding which of Ellington’s many classic compositions they are going to play.
“Ellington wrote thousands of tunes over a 50-year period,” Crawford says.
The pianist does provide a few songs the group will play: Durley will do “Satin Doll” and “Don’t Get Around Much,” and Capili will sing “Love You Madly,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and “In a Sentimental Mood.” Crawford is hoping to do Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom,” which Ellington performed.
“It’s a tune you don’t hear that much, and it’s a waltz,” Crawford says.
THE THIRD ANNUAL TRIBUTE TO DUKE ELLINGTON occurs 7:30pm Sunday, May 17, at Monterey Live, 414 Alvarado St., Monterey. $20/in advance; $25/day of. 373-5483.