Ellington at Disney Hall
By Kimberley Williams
Sentinel Contributing Writer
Sunday, May 22nd, there was a celebration at Disney Hall, topped by a thunderous roar of applause!
Maestros, James Newton, and Grant Gershon lead an ensemble of singers, jazz musicians, and a tap dancer through selected pieces of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music.
84 year old, Paul Hinshaw (bass), who has been with the Los Angeles Master Chorale from its inception made his debut in 1939, and went on to sing with the Roger Wagner Chorale, sang his last song with LAMC Sunday. Gershon said he wanted to celebrate his tenth anniversary and final performance of the season with Ellington’s work because it was so enjoyed in the past and had proved to be a celebration.
Newton had his hands full with L.A.’s top jazz musicians in the orchestra, including, soloists: Nolan Shaheed (trumpet),Pablo Calogero (baritone sax), Leon “Ndugu” Chancler (drums), Jeff Littleton (bass), and Lanny Hartley (piano), to name a few; and those fabulous singers: Carmen Lundy, Darius de Haas, and Cedric Berry. The tap dancer, Channing Cook Holmes, spoke for himself with his amazing feet wowing the crowd! These along with the superb chorale under Gershon’s direction and the incomparable Ellington compositions proved to be reason enough for the thunder!
We heard praise for the Creator, we heard taps, we heard truth, we heard history. We heard chaos in the opening number, “In the Beginning, God” brought into resolve. We heard humanity’s ever-burning cry for freedom as a call and demand for its presence in all our lives. Yes, Ellington was in the house; and the thunder approved!