Once Charlie Young, conductor of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, invited the audience to the dance floor last night, they needn’t be asked twice.
The band played to a packed house at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, giving lovers of all ages a chance to reminisce and reconnect to Duke Ellington’s captivating tunes, played by some of the world’s finest musicians.
In an interview prior to the weekend’s Valentine’s performances, Young said the band doesn’t usually go into a show with a specific set in mind. They just set the mood and go with the flow.
True to his word, they kicked off the night with such 1940s classics as “Take the A Train” and “Cotton Tail” – then took it from there.
The club’s proscenium stage provided a generous platform for the sizzling performances of the 15-member orchestra, allowing the melodies, with their smooth shifts in tempo and well-timed tipping points, to flow seamlessly throughout the venue. Meanwhile on the floor, dancers adjusted their swing accordingly.
The spotlight was on Morgan Price, who hails from Rockville, for his flawless rendition of Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies,” which cascaded from his exquisite rose-gold plated baritone sax.
The Duke Ellington Orchestra has been performing worldwide for the past 88 years under the guidance of three generations of the Ellington family.
As a Duke Ellington fan, hearing his music live was amazing. But I was just as entranced by the composure of the musicians themselves. With eyes closed and toes tapping, I could tell that they were embracing the show along with the audience. Their love for the music was palpable, and I can see how their chemistry conceives impeccable performances on stages across the world.
Running Time: Two hours, with one intermission.
The Duke Ellington Orchestra played on February 14, 2015 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, February 15, 2015 at 7:30 PM at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club-7719 Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. For future events, go to their website.