Doug Tidaback conducts the Ellington Big Band.
Doug Tidaback conducts the Ellington Big Band.

The award-winning Ellington Big Band will pay a return visit to the Arizona Senior Academy on Tuesday (May 26) for a mid-day concert designed to delight listeners with big-band jazz numbers from the 1920s through the 1950s.

“This should be a really eclectic concert,” said Doug Tidaback, the band’s director. “The oldest piece we’ll play is ‘Cotton Club Stomp’ from 1927, and we’ll play some great works from the 30s, 40s and 50s by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, and Mary Lou Williams.”

The free concert begins at 11:30 a.m. The band brought the house down when it performed at the Senior Academy last summer, and reservations are strongly advised for Tuesday’s performance by calling 647-0980.

The Ellington Big Band is part of Tucson’s Jazz Institute, a community music school that provides innovative programs to nurture budding musicians. The Institute offers music education taught by seasoned professionals in an extraordinarily flexible, positive and stimulating environment.

Youngsters are given the opportunity to play great arrangements and compositions, as well as hone their reading, jazz phrasing and improvisational skills. They are routinely taken to jazz festivals and competitions around the world.

On May 9, the Ellington Big Band took second place in the annual Essentially Ellington high school jazz band competition sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The competition is considered the top festival for high school level jazz in the U.S.

The Tucson band had won the prestigious competition the two previous years. “We weren’t even supposed to have a chance this year, since 14 of our strongest players graduated from the band last year,” said Tidaback. “As it turned out, we just missed out on first place by three points out of 1,000.”

Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

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Award-Winning Big Band Promises Four Decades of Jazz: May 2015