Lackman Center plans music festival

Dec 17 2015 | 03:47 AM

Music permeates Centenary Stage Company’s Lackland Center during the month of January with the January THAW Music Festival. Featuring the music of legends and some of New York’s hottest artists this year’s festival includes; “Duke Ellington: Composer Beyond Category” by The Duke Ellington Center Big Band under the direction of Mercedes Ellington, the Bria Skonberg Quintet and “An Oscar Moment” with the Matt Baker Quartet.

On Saturday, January 16 at 2 p.m. the music kicks off in full swing with The Duke Ellington Center Big Band under the direction of Mercedes Ellington.

"Duke Ellington: Composer Beyond Category" is an exciting, hand-clapping, finger-snapping, dynamic musical journey from the Jazz clubs of Harlem and the Apollo Theater, to the downtown night clubs and Broadway stages. This all-Ellington program features legendary jazz/blues singers, such as, Antoinette Montague and a host of incredible international, N.Y., Broadway, Jazz, Blues and dancers and musicians. With Special Guest Star Andre De Shields, dance stars from the Broadway stage and championship ballroom competitions, and tap dance virtuosos all performing to a classic Duke Ellington score presented with a modern theatrical flair. Directed by dancer/choreographer/producer, Mercedes Ellington, Duke Ellington's granddaughter, this exciting musical production — described by Ms. Ellington as "a cross between a Broadway theatrical musical revue and a jazz concert” — brings back fond memories and ignites new ones. This is an entertaining, rip-roaring musical performance and demonstrates why Ellington is ranked as America's most prolific 20th century composer and was hailed worldwide during his lifetime as "the Global Ambassador of Jazz and Peace."

The music festival continues on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. with the Bria Skonberg Quintet in the Lackland Center.

A catalyst for all things jazz, award winning trumpeter/vocalist/composer Bria Skonberg and her sizzling quintet create a style rooted in hot jazz, world percussion, soul and modern effects in a powerhouse combination. Since moving to New York in in 2010, she has earned a Jazz Journalists’ Association nomination for “Up and Coming Jazz Artist of The Year” and has been included twice in DOWNBEAT Magazine’s Rising Star Critics‘ Poll. She has recently been honored with a New York Bistro Award for “Outstanding Jazz Artist” and swept the 2014 Hot House Jazz Magazine Awards in all categories nominated: Best Jazz Artist, Best Trumpet, Best Female Vocalist and Best Group for the Bria Skonberg Quartet. She has headlined at major event spaces such as Symphony Space, Dizzy’s Coca Cola, the Iridium, Birdland and Cafe Carlyle and has been featured on jazz luminary Wycliffe Gordon’s projects and studied with Warren Vache.

Her debut U.S. release "So Is The Day" (Random Act Records) peaked at No. 7 on the U.S. National jazz charts; the 2014 follow up release "Into Your Own," features percussionist Mino Cinelu (Miles Davis, Weather Report). She has volunteered at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, is co-founder of the New York Hot Jazz Festival and a founding Director of the New York Hot Jazz Camp set to launch in 2016.

Finally Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m., in the Lackland Center the January THAW Music Fest wraps up in style with the piano whiz from ‘down under’ and Oscar Peterson protégé, Matt Baker and his Quartet for an exciting tribute to one of the giants of jazz in “An Oscar Moment”.

Australian Jazz Pianist Matt Baker has performed at jazz festivals, clubs and concert halls in Australia, Europe, USA and the Pacific. Matt regularly plays all over New York City, including engagements at Birdland, Smalls Jazz Club, The Zinc Bar, The Iridium, The Kitano, Le Cirque, Bemelmans Bar in The Carlyle Hotel, Tomi Jazz, The Garage, Somethin’ Jazz and Cleopatra’s Needle. He performs professionally with some of New York’s top musicians including Gregory Hutchinson, Hassan J.J. Shakur, Marco Panascia, Jim Cammack, Jerome Jennings, Dayna Stephens, Tony Middleton, Christine Ebersole and The Artie Shaw Orchestra, and once performed an impromptu duo set with trumpet legend Roy Hargrove at Smalls Jazz Club. Matt has also toured as Pianist and Musical Director for multi-platinum recording artist Patrizio Buanne. Aside from performing as a solo artist, he is fast becoming one of the most sought after accompanists, sidemen and musical directors on the New York scene.

Tickets for “Duke Ellington: Composer Beyond Category” by The Duke Ellington Center Big Band under the direction of Mercedes Ellington on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. are $35 in advance for orchestra seating and $30 in advance for balcony seating.

Tickets for the Bria Skonberg Quintet on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. are $22 in advance for adults and $15 in advance for children younger than 12.

Tickets for “An Oscar Moment” with the Matt Baker Quartet on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. are $22.50 in advance for adults and $15 in advance for children under 12.

As with all concerts, jazz and special events ticket orders increase $5 day of the performance. All ticket sales are final. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit centenarystageco.org or call the box office at (908) 979 – 0900.

Tickets may also be purchased in person at the CSC box office located in the David and Carol Lackland Center 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1–5 p.m. and two hours prior to every performance. Centenary Stage Company tickets may also be purchased through the mobile app. Ticket Trove.