By Paul Collins

America has led the world in the development of creative and new forms of music. The root of American music mainly comes from Appalachian string music found largely in rural America, and Jazz which started in New Orleans and spread rapidly to Chicago and New York.

Before Jazz, music in large cities was mostly classical music that audiences sat and listened to, and waltzes that they would dance to. Dancing was a huge form of entertainment. In the early 1900’s, a new form of dance music was evolving in New Orleans influenced by African, Caribbean, and Cuban cultures – a more frenetic style called Jazz. Then in 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band travelled to Chicago and then New York, and their music was a sensation. When people went out, they wanted to hear and dance to Jazz music.

In 1923, the famous Harlem Cotton Club hired a young and talented Duke Ellington and his Orchestra to be the house band. Duke Ellington went on to become one of the most important figures in the history of Jazz music. Jazz great Miles Davis said, “At least one day a year all musicians should just put their instruments down and give thanks to Duke Ellington”. Ellington wrote more than 1,000 compositions including Take the A Train, In a Sentimental Mood, It Don’t Mean A Thing (If you Don’t Have That Swing}, and Sophisticated Lady.

Jazz’s popularity exploded in the 20’s and 30’s and it took on many forms and names including Swing and Big Band. Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller were hugely popular. And with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, Jazz began to challenge classical music. In fact, many believe that Jazz is “America’s Classical Music”.

The Celebration Foundation Concert Series is pleased to offer two concerts with a range of gifted musicians that will really bring to life the Jazz age in America. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in collaboration with Jeff Rupert will present the great works of Duke Ellington. Our second Jazz concert will feature Michael Andrew & The Atomic Big Band. Michael Andrew was the long-time band leader at The Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

Series Tickets are now on sale at celebrationfoundation.org for this, the 18th year of the Celebration Foundation Concert Series. Last year, Series tickets – that give you priority seating and a 20% discount – sold out so make sure to purchase your tickets early.