Duke it out
“By and large,” Duke Ellington once said, “jazz has always been like the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.” That sounds a little coy coming from one of the greatest and most urbane composers, of jazz or anything else, in history. As a bandleader, arranger, writer of classic American songs such as “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “In a Sentimenal Mood,” and founding father of the big-band sound, Ellington remains unrivaled. He understands your daughter to be a sophisticated lady, of course, and hopes his material seems respectable enough for at least one date.
So, how about tomorrow night? If you hustle, you probably can still get tickets to the Irving Street Rep’s touring production of the double-Tony-winning musical retrospective Sophisticated Ladies, a self-described “treasure trove of Duke Ellington’s musical riches,” which stops by the Crest Theatre, at 1013 K Street, September 16th at 8 p.m. The show was a Broadway smash, which doesn’t say much these days but still meant something in 1981, when it made a star of Gregory Hines. That should give you a sense of its insouciant speakeasy-style glamour and of the electrifying tap dancing for which it’s a showcase.
Not that you need a whole catalog of reasons to go. The music alone, elaborated here by a seven-piece band, would be reason enough, with its lyrical warmth, refined panache and ample supply of swing—which, as Sir Duke has so kindly informed us, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got. Call (916) 766-2277 or visit www.artbeatshows.org for more information.