The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) will present the Columbus Jazz Orchestra in an NEA Jazz Masters Live “battle royale” match against the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Saturday, June 5, in two performances at the historic Lincoln Theatre.
Both orchestras will duke it out by performing a commissioned work by NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award-winner Frank Foster in each other’s home cities with celebrity guest judges declaring a victor. The composer is writing the work with both orchestras in mind, as they will be on stage at the same time, playing separately, until the finale with both bands performing.
In addition to the Foster commission, the orchestras will perform other works by the composer, such as “Shiny Stockings,” “Hip Shakin’,” and “Blues in Frankie’s Flat,” as well as several of the Count Basie charts that Frank Foster so masterfully arranged. Byron Stripling, Artistic Director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and Sean Jones, Artistic Director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, will also host pre-concert talks in both cities a half-hour before each performance. Stripling performed with Foster in the Count Basie Band during the 1980s, so his insights into Foster’s influence and legacy should be deeply personal.
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Columbus performances will take place at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM at the Lincoln Theatre in the King-Lincoln District. Single tickets are on sale now for $30 (orchestra) and $37.50 (loge). Tickets are available by phone at 614-469-0939 and through all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets are also available at the CAPA ticket office at 39 E. State Street. Call 614-294-5200 or visit www.jazzartsgroup.org for more information.
This event is supported by NEA Jazz Masters Live, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Media support is provided by WOSU Public Media.
About Frank Foster:
Born September 23, 1928 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Frank Benjamin Foster III began his long musical career at age eleven, when he took up the clarinet. Two years later he began playing alto saxophone, advancing technically to the point of performing with local dance bands at age 14. He began to compose and arrange at 15, and led his own 12-piece band while still only a senior in high school. Foster attended Wilberforce University, and performed with the Wilberforce Collegians.
Upon finishing his military service in 1953, Foster joined Count Basie’s big band. In addition to his full throated tenor playing, Foster contributed original material to the band including the standard, “Shiny Stockings,” and other popular songs including “Down for the Count,” “Blues Backstage,” “Back to the Apple,” “Discommotion,” and “Blues In Hoss Flat” as well as arrangements for the entire Easin’ It album.
After ten-plus years, Foster departed Basie’s band in 1964, and began working as a freelance arranger and musician providing material for Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra, among others. From 1970 to 1975 he brought his mighty tenor to a variety of situations including the bandstands of Elvin Jones, George Coleman, Joe Farrell and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis big band. Foster succeeded Thad Jones as leader of the Basie band in 1986, where he remained until 1995.
Throughout his career Foster has received many writing commissions. He has composed and orchestrated material for The Carnegie Hall Jazz Ensemble, The Detroit Civic Symphony Orchestra, The Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble, The Jazzmobile Corporation of New York City, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Malaysia Symphony Orchestra, The Metropole Orchestra of Hilversum, Holland, and The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. In 1983 Dizzy Gillespie personally commissioned Frank Foster to orchestrate one of the jazz icon’s compositions, “Con Alma,” for a scheduled performance and recording with The London Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Robert Farnon.
About the Jazz Arts Group:
The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) is America’s oldest not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to producing, performing and promoting jazz. JAG is the third largest performing arts organization in Columbus and consists of four focus areas: the Columbus Jazz Orchestra (CJO), one of the world’s finest professional jazz orchestras; the Jazz Academy, JAG’s extensive instructional programs educating both students and adults about jazz and American music; Inside Track, a new jazz and blues performance series to be produced at the historic Lincoln Theatre; and Affiliate Musicians, a program providing employment opportunities for professional musicians.
About the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra:
Led by Artistic Director Sean Jones the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra (CJO) promotes jazz, in its historical and contemporary forms, through concerts with gifted jazz musicians, arrangers, composers and educators in northeast Ohio. The CJO aims for worldwide recognition in cooperation with guest artists, and looks to shepherd young musicians toward the future of jazz.