Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald
July 14, 2013
The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) was founded in 1990 with an appropriation from the U.S. Congress in recognition of the importance of jazz in American culture and its status as a national treasure. Led by Artistic and Musical Director, David N. Baker, it serves as the orchestra-in-residence at the National Museum of American History, Division of Cultural History. The orchestra re-creates big band jazz as its composers and arrangers intended it to be played, stripping away intervening changes and alterations. Their Outside The Box performance will feature many of the original big band arrangements from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History archives, and The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and featured vocalist, Delores King-Williams, pay tribute to the elegant style and vocal expertise of Ella Fitzgerald. The repertoire centers on a special moment in American history by pulling original arrangements done for Ella in the 1940s and 1950s from the Smithsonian and Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation archives - arrangements by superstars like Billy May, Count Basie, Van Alexander, Billy Strayhorn and Benny Carter that haven’t been heard by live audiences in over 40 years. Additionally, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterwork Orchestra commissioned new arrangements for the band in the spirit of Ella’s songbook, adding a sense of contemporariness to round out this unique show.