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Release: March 26, 1999

(NOTE TO EDITORS: The national media representative for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra tour is Liza Rabinoff at Shore Fire Media, 718-522-7171; fax 718-522-7242.)

Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra celebrates Ellington centennial in April 15 Hancher concert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Duke Ellington's birth with "America in Rhythm and Tune: The Ellington Centennial" at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 15 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

The concert will feature many of the compositions made famous by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, including his portraits of people and places, and pieces inspired by his love of trains and the blues.

The UI concert is part of the extensive, year-long Jazz at Lincoln Center celebration of the Ellington Centennial, focusing on the life and work of the artist that many consider to be the most important American composer of the century. The Hancher concert comes just a week after one of the major New York events in the celebration, the "Uptown Blues: Ellington at 100" in Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center in collaboration with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Kurt Masur.

On May 12 the LCJO will be featured in a nationwide telecast, "Swingin' with the Duke," on the PBS "Great Performances" series. The live performances during the filming of the special will be released as the "Live in Swing City" CD in April 1999.

The celebration includes not only musical events, but also the publication of the book "Jump for Joy," which explores Ellington's life and genius through literary and visual materials including classic essays and commissioned artwork.

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, born on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C., was the most prolific and versatile American composer of the 20th century with respect to both numbers of compositions -- nearly 2,000 -- and variety of forms. During more than 50 years of sustained achievement as an artist and an entertainer, Ellington wrote popular songs, innovative scores for big band, music for the stage, film scores, jazz suites and even large-scale religious compositions.

Ellington synthesized many of the elements of American music -- including the minstrel song, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley tunes, the blues, jazz and European music -- into a style that combined technical complexity with directness and simplicity of expression. His innovations in form, harmony and melody influenced composers worldwide.

Many of the songs he composed alone or with collaborators including brother Mercer Ellington and Billy Strayhorn -- including "Satin Doll," "Sophisticated Lady," "Caravan," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," "Mood Indigo," "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Take Love Easy" -- have become indispensable parts of the standard repertory of vocalists and jazz instrumentalists.

LCJO has been the "house band" for Jazz at Lincoln Center activities for more than a decade. Under the leadership of Wynton Marsalis, the orchestra defines jazz at the turn-of-the-century through extending the big-band tradition and premiering new works from commissioned artists. One of the highlights of the ensemble's history was Marsalis' Pulitzer Prize-winning "Blood on the Fields," which was performed in Hancher two seasons ago.

The Chicago Tribune observed, "No institution in America has dared to dream as big as Jazz at Lincoln Center. Jazz at Lincoln Center has given the music a degree of visibility and stature it does not typically receive. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is becoming the signature American jazz band to audiences around the world." And the Charlotte Observer observed, "What they've done in a decade is nothing short of cultural movement, elevating America's music and enshrining its creators, establishing a baseline of jazz literacy and encouraging young people to take up the torch."

Eye Surgeons Associated, P.C., is the corporate sponsor of the LCJO performance through the University of Iowa Foundation.
Remaining tickets are $32 and $29. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. For details on all the Jazz @ Lincoln Center activities for the Ellington Centennial, visit their web site at