A concert in honor of the 120th anniversary of Duke Ellington took place as part of the 19th Cherry Forest Open Art Festival. On May 18 Igor Butman Moscow Jazz Orchestra and the legendary three-time Grammy Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater performed at the Zaryadye Concert Hall.
It was a real three-hour treat for jazz lovers from the Forest Festival – a concert in honor of the 120th birth anniversary of Duke Ellington, a.k.a. Duke of Jazz.
Dee Dee Bridgewater confesses: “In my opinion, Duke Ellington is a great composer. His works are a part of the so-called American Songbook. I dedicated a whole album to him in 1996. Igor, as well as his orchestra, respect his music as much as I do. It is very appealing to me. I love to work with them!”
“My musicians are first-rate artists, they know the music in and out, they feel it. The orchestra is over 20 years old now, and we have a great touring experience. When we face such an enthusiastic audience, we are even more willing to impress. Today we tried to stay true to the harmonies that we love Ellington for, while imparting our personal touch,”s - says Igor Butman, member of the Cherry Forest Trust Fund.
Dee Dee Bridgewater (née Denise Garrett) had a chance to perform in the Soviet Union at the age of 18, in 1968, when she was touring with the Michigan University Band. At the beginning of the concert, Dee Dee shared her emotions with the audience: “Moscow is stunning! I was pregnant during my last visit in 1996, and this time, I have brought my daughter with me to explore Moscow”. The American jazz singer, one of the best vocalists of her generation, is revered for her one of a kind performance style and unexpected musical renditions. Her unique voice puts her in the ranks of the best singers of the 20th century.
Igor Butman was among the originators of the Cherry Forest Festival. He is one of the members of the Festival’s Trust Fund; he didn’t miss a single season of the Festival with his virtuoso jazz programs. In 1999 he established his acclaimed Moscow Jazz Orchestra that proved to be one of the leading orchestras of the world and the primary catalyst of jazz art development in Russia. Within the last 20 years, the musicians of the Moscow Jazz Orchestra represented Russia at the most prestigious festivals of Europe, Asia, and the USA. In October 2017 the orchestra was the headliner of the World Festival of Youth and Students. In 2018 the big band was the first orchestra in the world to perform in the leading global jazz event – the All-Star Global Concert.
Only in the last five years the orchestra gave over 500 concerts around Russia, and also performed in South Korea, India, China, Italy, Canada, France, Great Britain, Latvia, Germany, and the USA. The musicians played at the best concert arenas of the world with Natalie Cole, New York Voices, Kevin Mahogany, Wynton Marsalis, Larry Corryell, George Benson, Gino Vannelli, Billy Cobham, Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Harry Burton, Kurt Elling, Patti Austin, and many other jazz legends.
The real name of one of the greatest composers of all time is Edward Ellington Kennedy, but the world recognizes him as Duke. Ellington composed over 2000 compositions, and over a hundred of them became jazz classics. Caravan, Solitude, Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – few people won’t be able not recognize these tunes. Throughout his life, Duke received numerous awards and prizes, including 11 Grammy Awards, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom – one of the highest civilian awards of the United States. Besides, Ellington has posthumously bestowed the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Duke always showed sympathy to Russia. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 he made donations to the Red Army, and in 1971, despite the Iron Curtain, he made a trip with his orchestra to the USSR.
Pavel Astakhov: "We are overwhelmed by our experiences: listening to jazz takes one’s breath away. This is even more true when Igor and Dee Dee Bridgewater are on stage. She is a true legend. I believe that we wouldn’t’t be experiencing the same level of engagement from any other performers".
Arina Sharapova: "I really do like to truly experience jazz... The Cherry Forest Festival is one of the finest in the world and boasts both delightful music and a wonderful atmosphere".
Larisa Dolina: "The program is spectacular. All the pieces are well-known, the orchestra is fantastic, Dee Dee Bridgewater is completely inside the music, plus there are the wonderful arrangements from Levinovsky. Cherry Forest Festival is the best in Russia. Each year we encounter so much that is new, unusually, extraordinary. The experiences stay with you and revitalize one’s heart and soul".
Victor Sukhorukov: "Another Cherry Forest Festival, another great experience… I am not particularly knowledgeable about jazz, but I do get such a rush from it. This was in fact my first concert at Zaryadye!”
Igor Butman: "It is a great honor and pleasure to be a part of the festival. It is devoted to all types of art, and to art lovers of all ages!"