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June 21, 2024
7:00 pm


Be part of history! Tonight’s concert will be recorded live for an album release. Join us for an enchanting evening as we pay homage to the unparalleled Duke Ellington, an iconic figure whose musical genius transcended boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on the fabric of modern music. A true pioneer in the realm of jazz, Ellington’s compositions surpassed mere entertainment—they emerged as a compelling voice against racial inequality. Through his innovative and emotive arrangements, Ellington not only highlighted the struggles and triumphs of African Americans but also mesmerized diverse audiences with his unique ability to weave intricate stories through sound. His influence reverberates through time, traversing the infectious rhythms of the Harlem Renaissance to the soul-stirring melodies of the Civil Rights era and beyond, encompassing Jazz, swing, fusion, pop, and theatre.

In commemoration of his 125th Anniversary, we are honored to be joined by four world-class solo pianists. Baltimore-based Lafayette Gilchrist and Marc Cary, along with Philadelphia-based Orrin Evans and James Hurt, will interpret and expound on Ellington’s legacy. Together, they will guide us through the rich tapestry of Ellington’s musical journey, bringing to life the enduring power of music to inspire change.

Step into the rhythm of history, celebrating the everlasting impact of Duke Ellington’s artistry. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to witness the convergence of talent and tribute, as we collectively honor a legend whose influence continues to resonate in the melodies that shape our world.

About the Musicians

Marc Cary
In a jazz world brimming with brilliant and adventurous pianists, Marc Cary stands apart by way of pedigree and design. None of his prestigious peer group ever set the groove behind the drums in Washington DC go-go bands nor are any others graduates of both Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln’s daunting bandstand academies. Cary remains one of the progenitors of contemporary jazz, evident in his influence on peers. Live gigs with vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bandmate Casey Benjamin began the genesis of Robert Glasper’s recording Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Cary’s record “Taiwa” from Focus in 2006 evolved into “For You” on Glasper’s Double Booked and Harris’ Urbanus. Cary collaborator Roy Hargrove exalted him with “Caryisms” on 1992’s The Vibe, an album whose title track is one of two Cary originals including “Running Out of Time”–now part of the lexicon of live repertoire among jazz stalwarts Hargrove, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Igmar Thomas’ Revive Big Band. As New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen observed recently, “There isn’t much in the modern-jazz-musician tool kit that Marc Cary hasn’t mastered, but he has a particular subspecialty in the area of groove…with a range of rhythmic strategies, from a deep-house pulse to a swinging churn.” Mr. Cary richly embodies the spirit of diverse streams that feed into the ample body of what we consider jazz history today.

Orrin Evans
During his kaleidoscopic quarter-century as a professional jazz musician, pianist Orrin Evans has become the model of a fiercely independent artist who pushes the envelope in all directions. Never supported by a major label, Evans has ascended to top-of-the-pyramid stature on his instrument, as affirmed by his #1-ranking as “Rising Star Pianist” in the 2018 DownBeat Critics Poll. Grammy nominations for the Smoke Sessions albums The Intangible Between and Presence, by Evans’ raucous, risk-friendly Captain Black Big Band, stamp his bona fides as a bandleader and composer. In addition to CBBB, Evans’ multifarious leader and collaborative projects include the Eubanks Evans Experience (a duo with eminent guitarist Kevin Eubanks); the Brazilian unit Terreno Comum; Evans’ working trio with bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr.; and Tar Baby (a collective trio of 20 years standing with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits).

Lafayette Gilchrist
There’s good reason why jazz fans and critics alike are so excited about Lafayette Gilchrist. The Baltimore-based pianist hit the scene hard with his debut, The Music According To Lafayette Gilchrist, and went straight to earning raves for his sophomore release, Towards The Shining Path. Emerging from jazz legend David Murray’s Black Saint Quartet, Gilchrist has an approach and presence that’s drawn comparisons to royalty such as Andrew Hill and Sun Ra.
With his own band the New Volcanoes, Gilchrist leads a 10 piece ensemble that’s equally inspired by D.C. go-go, old school soul, hard funk and progressive hip-hop. Introduced to Hyena Records by the iconic guitarist Vernon Reid, Gilchrist released his fourth album, Soul Progressin’, in 2009 The pianist has this to say about his latest recording: “Soul Progressin’ ” is a rediscovery in the sense of what was and is still the most essential part of my offering. Soul Power. Its roots are endless and wondrous. Its future is undeniable. So we just want to celebrate about it a bit.” Soul Progressin’ further heighten Gilchrist’s reputation as a singular voice in jazz and, for that matter, progressive American music in the broader scope.

James Hurt
James Hurt, credits his mom for his early exposure to blues, jazz, and soul music. Musically, James is genre bender who approaches music as a journey in sound. Though James studied percussion while attending TSU, his harmony, counterpoint, form and analysis and applied piano instructor Dr. Donald Barrett, Oberlin Conservatory Alumnus, attempted to switch his focus to piano. Barrett exposed him to the classical piano literature of Bartok, Prokofiev, Ginastera, Liszt, Chopin, Gershwin, Legeti, and Rachmaninoff. James graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Science Degree in Computer-Based Music Education yet was determined to pursue creative music further.

James moved to New York City by train in 1994 and gained a lot of press in a short amount of time by conducting, composing, and performing as a pianist in several bands nightly with his unique sound and spontaneity. Rashid Ali, Antonio Hart, Russell Gunn, Gregory Tardy, and Abraham Burton enlisted James simultaneously. James served as guest conductor and arranged for both the Tess Marsalis Swing Daddies at the Iridium and the Jason Lidner Big Band at Smalls. As a pianist James played in the Oliver Lake Big Band at the Knitting Factory in New York City, and on electronics, laptop, and keyboards in Butch Morris’s Nublu and Lucky Cheng Orchestras. Since 2008 James has performed with Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures Ensemble and Go Organic Orchestra as a percussionist.

As a recording artist James can be heard on such labels as Atlantic, Impulse, Motown, High Note, Fresh Sounds, Innerscope, Reservoir, Enja (Germany), Polygram Polydor (France), Red Records (Italy), Pi Records, Sony Music (South Africa), Small Records (NYC), DreamWorks Records and Adam Rudolph’s Meta Records. In 1995 Bruce Lundvall signed the Sherman Irby Quartet after hearing at their Smalls Jazz Club late night residency. Afterwards James recorded and released Dark Grooves Mystical Rhythms on the Blue Note Records label in 1999.

James recorded on Grammy nominated albums for Antonio Hart (Here I Stand), Abbey Lincoln (Wholly Earth), and Russell Gunn (Ethnomusicology Vol. I). James co-created and presented the first hip-hop band to play at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City under the group name the “Real Live Show”. MTV2 placed Shop Rockin’ and Come Back in their rotation from their CD Class is in Session. James secured placements for both HBO and FORD ad campaigns. Throughout his career James has shared his talents with several creative artists including Louis Hayes, Eric Wyatt, John Ore, Butch Morris, Adam Rudolph, Francis Mbappe, Dominick James, Greg Tate, Joseph Bowie, Donald Byrd, Q-Tip, M.C. Special Ed, Vernon Reid, Melvin Gibbs, Corey Glover, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Soul Live, DJ Logic, J.D. Parran, Vijay Iyer, Essiet Essiet, Eric McPherson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Reggie Washington, George Porter Jr., Bernie Worrell, Maceo Parker, Buster Williams, J.T. Lewis, Wil Calhoun, Jeff Tain Watts, Pheron Aklaff, Sarah Morrow, Kim Thompson, Nikki Glaspie, Brandon Ross, Pete Cosey, David Gilmore, Oliver Lake, Sam Newsome, Waddada Leo Smith, Nels Cline, Sherman Irby, Arto Lindsay, Mark Kelly, Gregoire Marett, Taurus Mateen, and Nasheet Waits. The foundation crafted by Mr. Hurt can be heard in several emerging artists of today’s creative music scene.

Creative Alliance

$25, $22 members

3134 Eastern Ave.
Baltimore, 21224