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Duke Ellington Orchestra
- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

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Mark Gross, Alto Sax; Dave Bixler, Alto Sax; Craig Rivers, Tenor Sax; Anthony E. Nelson, Jr., Tenor Sax; James Stewart, Baritone Sax; Junior Vega, Trumpet; Chris Albert, Trumpet; Reggie Pittman, Trumpet; Don McIntosh, Trumpet; Stafford Hunter, Trombone; Benny Powell, Trombone; Kuni Mikami, Piano; Bryce Sebastien, Bass; Brian Grice, Drums;
Jack Jeffers, Bandleader/Bass Trombone

Most Tuesday Nights

315 West 44th Street, NYC
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 9, 2003

Originally Published on

I stopped by tonight, on the direct walk home from the Oak Room and caught almost all of the second set. Jazz is a bit like Tango, as one can rarely be too late to hear at least a few pieces. I sat at my usual seat at the Bar, near the musicians, and was greeted warmly by the musicians' playful glances and scintillating music. The Duke Ellington Orchestra, led by Paul Mercer Ellington and Jack Jeffers has never been in better shape. The horns were triumphantly presenting a hot, blazing sound, and the orchestra was relaxed and improvisational, which is often a nice feature of the second sets.

In Cottontail, about two rabbits making love, there are two saxophone soloists featured, and they were fantastic. Chelsea Bridge featured strong trombones, and Stafford Hunter and Benny Powell played complimentary roles, followed by Jack Jeffers on a third featured trombone. The back row of muted trumpets was the foundation for Stafford's sharp, accented qualities that contrasted with Benny's lower and smoother sound. Sultry Serenade featured bass, trumpets, and drums in wild effervescence. Kuni Mikami's solo piano piece, about a single rose petal, was very reminiscent of MacDowell's To a Wild Rose. However, Kuni was accompanied by brushes and soft bass tones. The finale was an energetically fused Swing/Jazz/Blues piece, which brought the Birdland audience to a rousing ovation. You can check Birdland's Website and see that the Duke Ellington Orchestra fortunately appears at Birdland most Tuesday nights, 2 sets.

Duke Ellington Orchestra
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Jack Jeffers, Director
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Duke Ellington Bassist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Duke Ellington Saxophonist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Erica Weander and Tarik Osman
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at