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Mercedes Ellington Hosts a Holiday Benefit Event, "Ring Dem Bells”, for The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts at Landmark on the Park
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Mercedes Ellington Hosts a Holiday Benefit Event, "Ring Dem Bells”, for The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts at Landmark on the Park

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner: Special Events


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The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts
www.thedukeellingtoncenter.org

Presents:
“Ring Dem Bells”
Hosted by Mercedes Ellington

Music by the Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band

With:
A Tribute to NEA Jazz Master Candido Camero

Vocalists: Lee Roy Reams, Steve Ross, Stacy Sullivan
Antoinette Montague, Walter Willison, Larry Marshall
Guest Pianist: Eugene Gwozdz

Directed by Pamela Hunt
Ballroom Dance by Michael Choi and Erin Marie,
Tap by Karen Callaway Williams, Alex Cowings, & Evan Ruggiero

At:
Landmark on the Park
160 Central Park West at 76th Street
New York, NY 10023

Publicity: Les Schecter Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 8, 2014


Tonight was Mercedes Ellington’s Christmas event, a benefit for The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts at Landmark on the Park, which is actually a spacious interior of a Universalist Church, with exceptional acoustics. Ms. Ellington, the granddaughter of Duke Ellington, was vivacious in a red fur jacket over glittery black, and she kept the evening’s momentum memorable and musical. After a lovely reception of wines and hors d’oeuvres, the Grammy-Nominated bandleader, drummer, composer, producer, and educator, Bobby Sanabria, and his Multiverse Big Band, performed Sanabria’s 2012 Ellington tribute, the “Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Ellington”, composed in multiple Latin Jazz genres, Swing, traditional Jazz, and hints of classical, as well. The 19-man Big Band played as an ensemble, with generous solos, on congas, Latin percussion, and saxophone, plus Sanabria’s propulsive drum solos and accompanying vocals. I had recently reviewed Sanabria’s new CD, and I knew his charisma and talent from jazz club events.

This was a busy night, and another featured star was the 93 year-old, NEA Jazz Master, Candido Camero, who received a City Proclamation in his honor, recognizing his Ellington Center Lifetime Achievement Award. The Cuban-born conga-specialist spoke to the audience with warm gratitude, exclaiming, “Wow”. Earlier, the winners of the Ellington Center’s vocal competition were awarded to six rising-star singers. Other Big Band numbers were Ellington’s 1940, Latin-Swing infused, “The Flaming Sword” and Ellington’s jazzy “Nutcracker Suite”, from 1960, which is a series of arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s original, in collaboration with Billy Strayhorn. I heard jazzy dance rhythms of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea, with intriguing interludes. Sanabria’s Multiverse Big Band did a fantastic turn as the orchestra for the evening. In a Holiday mood, cabaret star, Steve Ross, on piano and vocals, sang Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz” with pizzazz, and then accompanied the stage and musical veteran, Walter Willison, for Strayhorn’s “Rain Check” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

Additional vocal entertainers were singer, Antoinette Montague, rocking the house, with Louis Jordan’s “Let the Good Times Roll” and Ella Fitzgerald’s “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”. Larry Marshall was breezy in the Ellington/Strayhorn/Mercer song, “Satin Doll”, and Stacy Sullivan sang rousing standards, as well, with exceptional style. Eugene Gwozdz sat in on piano, Andy Eulau on bass, and there was more. Elegant ballroom dancers, Michael Choi and Erin Marie, and tap dancers, Alex Cowings, Karen Callaway Williams, and Evan Ruggiero, joined the stage, upstairs and downstairs, in this cathedral-like space. The event ended with a live auction, assisted by Morty Berkowitz and Antoinette Montague, raising funds for the mission and programs of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts. Pamela Hunt directed the evening. Yet, it was Mercedes Ellington, who periodically took the microphone and greeted the crowd. One might say this was quite a successful event. .



Mercedes Ellington with Guest, David Dinkins (Former Mayor)
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Guests from the Bank Street Bookstore
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Stacy Sullivan, Vocalist
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Lee Roy Reams, Vocalist
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Antoinette Montague, Vocalist
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Bobby Sanabria on Drums
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Steve Ross, Vocalist and Pianist
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Walter Willison, Vocalist, and Steve Ross, Pianist
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Michael Choi and Erin Marie, Ballroom Dancers
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Karen Callaway Williams, Tap Dancer
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Karen Callaway Williams, Tap Dancer
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Les Schecter, Public Relations, and Katherine Schecter
At "Ring Dem Bells"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net