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Columbus Jazz Orchestra celebrates the world famous Cotton Club, March 14-18
(Published: February 15, 2012)

Columbus, OH - 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.

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.

For more information call 614-294-5200 or visit www.jazzartsgroup.org.

The Swingin' with the CJO music series is presented by the Westin Columbus with ongoing support from the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and The Columbus Foundation. Concert sponsorship for "A Night at the Cotton Club" is provided by US Bank with media support from The Columbus Dispatch, WMNI AM 920, and WOSU Public Media.

About the Jazz Arts Group:

The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) is America's oldest not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to producing, performing and promoting jazz. JAG is the third largest performing arts organization in Columbus and consists of four focus areas: the Columbus Jazz Orchestra (CJO), one of the world's finest professional jazz orchestras; the Jazz Academy, JAG's extensive instructional programs educating both students and adults about jazz and American music; Inside Track, a new jazz and blues performance series produced at the historic Lincoln Theatre; and Affiliate Musicians, a program providing employment opportunities for professional musicians.

About Ted Louis Levy:

Ted Louis Levy made his Broadway debut in the smash hit Black & Blue. He collaborated with George C. Wolfe and Gregory Hines on the choreography of Jelly's Last Jam, for which he received a Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination and the 1993 Outer Critics Circle Award. Ted was awarded an Emmy Award for his television debut performance in the PBS special Precious Memories, and appeared in Spike Lee's Malcolm X for his film debut. Ted also appeared in the movie Bojangles with Gregory Hines, and later returned to Broadway as Papa Jack in Susan Stroman & Harry Connick, Jr.'s Thou Shalt Not. He has also performed in Sammy; a production based on the musical life of Sammy Davis, Jr. Ted's most recent venture is his own rendering of a production titled The Rhythm of Life.

About Brenda Braxton:

Brenda Braxton is a native New Yorker and graduate of the High School for the Performing Arts. She was featured on Broadway in Smokey Joe's Café for which she was nominated for a Tony Award and the recipient of the NAACP Theater Award, Chicago's Jefferson Award and Grammy for Best Cast Album. In 2003 she joined the Broadway cast of Chicago in the starring role of Velma Kelly and has enjoyed seven years with the company. She also set a Broadway record playing the role of Velma more than any other actress.

More Information: http://www.jazzartsgroup.org

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