JAZZ IN THE KEY OF ELLISON celebrates the musical world of Ralph Ellison. It is a new concert production inspired by the musical life of America’s iconic writer Ralph Ellison, presented in music, words, and images. Ralph Ellison, acclaimed author of the National Book Award-winning novel Invisible Man, was an accomplished trumpeter who was close to many of the great jazz innovators of his lifetime – from Armstrong and Ellington to Bird and Monk. The concert celebration premiered in November 2016 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
This star-led evening of music and narration includes R&B and jazz vocalist WILL DOWNING, iconic Labelle singer/recording artist NONA HENDRYX, 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition winner QUIANA LYNELL, and Grammy-winning trumpeter NICHOLAS PAYTON, the ANDY FARBER JAZZ ORCHESTRA from the Broadway show “After Midnight,” and narration by best-selling author ROXANE GAY. plus additional special guest performers. Still images and video of Ellison, legendary performers including Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, and paintings by Ellison’s close friend Romare Beardon provide a visual backdrop. The tour will also offer educational opportunities featuring Columbia University’s Jazz and Ellison scholar Bob O’Meally joined by performers from the show.
Produced by NJPAC and Danny Kapilian
Support for the NJPAC premiere was provided by Audible.com, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and the Institute for Jazz Studies in Newark.