Highlights from concert performances of Duke Ellington's "Such Sweet Thunder" are featured this week on Jazz Northwest. These unique performances combine excerpts from Shakespeare's plays with Duke Ellington's musical portraits of the featured characters. Michael Brockman conducts the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra with guest actors from The Seattle Shakespeare Company, Darragh Kennan and Hana Lass.
"Such Sweet Thunder" was commissioned by the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, and premiered at Town Hall in New York City in 1957. The Duke Ellington Orchestra recorded it the same year. To the best of our knowledge, it has never been performed with actors except by The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and Seattle Shakespeare Company who first joined in this production in 2014.
These performances were recorded at Kirkland Performance Center and Edmonds Center for the Arts on April 22 and 23, 2018. Because of the length of the suite and the readings, highlights from the two concerts will be broadcast in two parts, May 6 and 13. Special thanks to the actors, and George Mount of Seattle Shakespeare for his participation and assistance.
The next series of concerts by the SRJO will feature vocalist Dee Daniels on June 16,17,18.