After working with the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History to recreate Duke Ellington’s only musical Beggar’s Holiday in the fall of 2009, I became keenly aware of the vast abundance of priceless music in the museum’s collection. After a series of meetings with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Executive Director, Ken Kimery, we decided to mount a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald utilizing many of the original arrangements Ella recorded from master arrangers such as Billy May and Oliver Nelson.
With the help of the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, the program first appeared on the MCG Jazz 2009-2010 concert season. Subsequently, the project has toured to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ, and Blues Alley, Washington, DC. This summer, “A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald featuring the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra with vocalist Kim Nazarian” will be presented at the Animal Crackers Jazz Series at the Racine Zoo in Racine, WI on July 11, 2012, and as part of the Allegheny County Parks Summer Concert Series at South Park Amphitheater, Pittsburgh, PA on July 13. For tickets to the Animal Crackers series please click here. South Park is a free event, for more information, click here.