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JCM Prehistoric Jazz | Star Crossed Constellations: The Music of Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein and Mary Lou Williams

Tuesday, April 16, 2024   |   8:00 pm

Free – $20.00
Longy’s performance are free and open to the public, but please register in advance.

Star Crossed Constellations: The Music of Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein and Mary Lou Williams

The project and course title was inspired by video footage of Leonard Bernstein rehearsing The Rite of Spring in 1987 where he instructs the timpanist to play his part like “prehistoric jazz.” Originally a quintet project led by Eric Hofbauer, it resulted in four albums of quintet arrangements that celebrate the common ground between modern jazz and the works of Stravinsky, Messiaen, Ives, and Ellington by using the shared rhythmic and harmonic concepts of the 20th century modernists as a bridge to postmodern jazz improvisation. This method of synthesis and reinterpretation has been a part of the jazz tradition from its inception through the work of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and even Gunther Schuller’s Third Stream movement. This method of deconstruction and re-imaging scores as vehicles for improvisation became the central concept for this project based collaborative course. The class first analyzes and experiments with various transformational techniques and then works together to craft brand new arrangements specific to the class instrumentation.

This year the class tackled the work of Ellington, from his Such Sweet Thunder suite (inspired by the texts of Shakespeare); Bernstein, from West Side Story (fitting during the year of the film Maestro); and the Zodiac Suite by Mary Lou Williams (with each student small group creating miniatures based on themes from their own zodiac signs.)

Jazz and Contemporary Music

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Half the Fun (1957)
Duke Ellington 1899-1974

West Side Story, Act One: Prologue (1957)
Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990

Selections (miniatures) from the Zodiac Suite (1945)
Mary Lou Williams 1910-1981



Hannah Anderson – flute
Sam Cerra – vibraphone
Sebastian Guerrero – bass
Jiyue Huang – drums
Liza Knight – bassoon
Andreas Michaelides – guitar
Ana Ospina – cello
Mark Perez – trumpet
Nicoleta Savvidou – piano
Zuming Shi – guitar
Jinyu Yang – voice


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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
8:00 pm
Free – $20.00
Event Categories:


Longy’s Alternative Library Performance Space
Longy School of Music, 27 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Thanks to our partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and their “Card to Culture” program, Longy School of Music of Bard College can offer free tickets to many of our diverse and innovative performance offerings. See the full list of participating “Card to Culture” organizations offering EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare discounts.