The Soraya Presents the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra Performing The Music of Ella Fitzgerald, Directed by Scotty Barnhart and Featuring Vocalist Lizz Wright on Wednesday, November 17.
Over a 60-plus-year career, William James “Count” Basie re-wrote the history of jazz with 18 Grammy Awards, performing with his orchestra for kings and queens, major music festivals, multiple TV appearances, and on every major stage in the world. In addition, his legacy was establishing jazz as a serious art form. Thirty years after his passing, The Count Basie Orchestra, under the direction of Scotty Barnhart, continues to further the Basie legacy and perform at sold-out concerts worldwide.
“All 18 players share a common goal: to ensure that the music swings like crazy. And swing it does – with extraordinary precision.” —Sydney Morning Herald
The singular American vocalist, Ella Fitzgerald, shared Basie’s history with countless performances and multiple recordings, including their 1963 album “Ella and Basie!,” an album that many rank among the most important ever made. The Count Basie Orchestra brings to The Soraya some of their original arrangements, to be performed by Lizz Wright, a singer acclaimed for her vocal depth and agility. Her “Nearness of You” tribute to Ella Fitzgerald has been viewed more that 100 million times on her Facebook page and YouTube channel.
The Soraya presents “The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra The Music of Ella Fitzgerald”
Wednesday, November 17 at 8pm
Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
About the Count Basie Orchestra
In the history of jazz music, there is only one bandleader that has the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world, with members personally chosen by him, for over 30 years after his passing. Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was and still is an American institution that personifies the grandeur and excellence of Jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra, today directed by Scotty Barnhart, has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, won 18 Grammy Awards, performed for kings, queens, and other world royalty, appeared in several movies, television shows, at every major jazz festival and major concert hall in the world. The latest honors are the 2018 Downbeat Readers Poll Award as the #1 Jazz Orchestra in the world, and a Grammy Nomination for their 2018 acclaimed recording, “All About That Basie,” which features special guests Stevie Wonder, Jon Faddis, Take 6, and Kurt Elling among others. It follows their critically acclaimed release in 2015 of “A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!,” the very first holiday album in the 80 year history of the orchestra. Released on Concord Music, it went to #1 on the jazz charts and sold out on Amazon! Special guests include vocalists Johnny Mathis, Ledisi, our own Carmen Bradford and pianist Ellis Marsalis. A full-length documentary on Mr. Basie and the orchestra was completed by the BBC Television Network.
Some of the greatest soloists, composers, arrangers, and vocalists in jazz history such as Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Sonny Payne, Freddie Green, Snooky Young, Frank Wess, and Joe Williams, became international stars once they began working with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. This great 18-member orchestra is continuing the excellent history started by Basie of stomping and shouting the blues, as well as refining those musical particulars that allow for the deepest and most moving of swing.
Since Basie’s passing in 1984, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, Bill Hughes, Dennis Mackrel, and now Scotty Barnhart, have led the Count Basie Orchestra and maintained it as one of the elite performing organizations in Jazz. A recent recording released on Concerd Music celebrated the first 80 years of the orchestra Executive produced by Scotty Barnhart and Sam Beler, it features legendary artists such as Stevie Wonder, Take 6, Joey DeFrancesco, Kurt Elling, and others.
Current members include musicians hired by Basie himself: Frequent guest vocalist Carmen Bradford (joined in 1983) and trombonist Clarence Banks (joined in 1984). Long-time members include Doug Miller (1989, formerly w/Lionel Hampton), and members who have joined in the last 15-25 years; trombonists David Keim (formerly w/Stan Kenton), Alvin Walker and Mark Williams, guitarist Will Matthews, trumpeter Endre Rice, saxophonists Doug Lawrence (formerly w/Benny Goodman, Buck Clayton) and returning on lead alto, David Glasser. Newer members include bassist Trevor Ware, trumpeters Brandon Lee and returning member, Shawn Edmonds, our new lead trumpeter Frank Greene III, pianist Glen Pearson and the youngest members; 27 year old Robert Boone on drums, 24 year old Joshua Lee on baritone saxophone and 24 year old Markus Howell on alto.
About Lizz Wright
Acclaimed vocalist Lizz Wright is a steward of American music bringing brilliant color and vibrancy to singular original works and compositions by some of the greatest songwriters of our time. Wright has garnered widespread attention as one of the most venerable popular singers of her generation through the release of five critically acclaimed albums. From her breakout Verve debut album, 2003’s “Salt,” to her most recent release, “Grace” (Concord Records), Wright lives life filled with beautiful possibilities centered on the power of song. Through an inimitable voice that “The New York Times” touts as, “a smooth, dark alto possessed of qualities you might associate with barrel-aged bourbon or butter-soft leather,” Wright sings with a soaring reflection of the cultural fabric of America. She lies beneath the script of human history transcending social divides with an offer of love and deep sense of humanity. Her music accepts the beauty of reality and a collective experience of belonging. For the listener, Wright’s songs embody a tradition that allows us to always feel at home, wherever we might be physically or emotionally.
About Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
The 2021-22 Season marks the 10th Anniversary for the celebrated Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya) located on the vibrant and diverse campus of California State University in the heart of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.
Under the leadership of Executive and Artistic Director Thor Steingraber, The Soraya continues its vigorous commitment to innovating, exceling, and amplifying access by offering a wide variety of performances that reflect LA’s many distinctive communities and featuring new and original work from the Los Angeles region as well as artists from around the world. In 2020, The Soraya’s online programs garnered attention from around the globe and from media such as “The New York Times.”
In addition to its LEED Gold certified venue—a rarity among performing arts centers—the 1700-seat Soraya has been nationally recognized for its environmentally sustainable practices and programs.
After enduring a year without live performances, the 2021-22 season will offer a joy-filled reunion featuring a vibrant program of nearly 50 classical and popular music, dance, theater, family, and international events that will further establish The Soraya as one of the top arts companies in Southern California that uplifts and inspires its audiences.