“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” is a sentiment that rarely accompanies a history lecture, but when the Overbeck History Project hosts a talk about Duke Ellington’s life in Washington, things will be swingin’. Ellington, a DC native who is considered the world’s greatest jazz composer, is the topic of a book and lecture by curator John Edward Hasse from the National Museum American History (NMAH). To paraphrase the Duke, there are two kinds of music –or in this case, lectures: good ones, and the other kind. The one on Monday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hill Center’s Lincoln Room promises to be a good one.
Hasse will present an illustrated tour of the saloons, soda fountains and other performance venues where the young Duke Ellington’s ears were tuned to a new kind of music. Admission is free but a reservation is required due to limited seating. Go to HillCenterDC.org for tickets or call 202-549-4172.
Considered the nation’s leading Ellington authority, Hasse is the award-winning author of Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington and editor of the illustrated history Jazz: The First Century. Virtually all of the composer’s unpublished music, along with countless other papers, recordings and artifacts from the early days of jazz can be found in the Duke Ellington archive at NAHM.
The Overbeck History Lectures are an initiative of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation.
Some food for thought and a taste of the Duke’s big personality:
“By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.”
“Playing ‘bop’ is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing.”
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