The Jazz Arts Group’s Swingin’ with the CJO series returns to the historic Southern Theatre to celebrate a different venue – the world famous Cotton Club. The Columbus Jazz Orchestra will salute the unforgettable talent and musical legacy of this legendary club in “A Night at the Cotton Club” (March 14 – 18), featuring award-winning choreographer/tap dancer Ted Louis Levy and Broadway sensation Brenda Braxton.
During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, the neighborhood cabarets and clubs attracted both its residents and white New Yorkers seeking out Harlem nightlife. From 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue, the Cotton Club emerged as one of the most famous nightclubs in history, known for its lavish stage shows and talented musicians. Its glittering revues provided a medium for performances by the most prominent jazz musicians of the day, and the club’s activities were brought to a wide audience by frequent broadcasts.
The Cotton Club helped launch the careers of Fletcher Henderson, who led the first band to play there in 1923, and Duke Ellington, whose orchestra was the house band there from December 4, 1927 to June 30, 1931. The club not only gave Ellington national exposure through radio broadcasts originating there, but enabled him to develop his repertoire while composing not only the dance tunes for the shows, but also the overtures, transitions, accompaniments, and “jungle” effects that gave him the freedom to experiment with orchestral colors and arrangements that touring bands rarely had. Ellington recorded over 100 compositions during this era, while building the group that he led for nearly fifty years.
Despite its strict segregation policies, what did emerge from this historic venue was a legendary jazz history. The likes of Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, and Sammy Davis, Jr. also made appearances at the Cotton Club.
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Single tickets are on sale now for $49 (main floor), $46 (first balcony) and $41 (second balcony) and available through the CAPA Ticket Office at 614-469-0939 and through all Ticketmaster outlets. Student tickets are available for $15 (over 18) and $10 (under 18) with valid ID at the door.
Under the direction of Mark Donavan, the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) is proud to perform prior to each Swingin’ with the CJO matinee concert. Comprised of premier players in grades 9-12 from central Ohio and beyond, the CYJO provides opportunities for talented high school age musicians to further their experience in America’s classical music – jazz. Admission to the CYJO performance at 1 PM is included with each 2 PM Sunday matinee ticket purchase.