Ashley Kahn & The CRJO | They Called him Duke: The Struggles and Triumph of African-American Pioneer Duke Ellington
($20-$40 tickets | 5pm Presentation / 7pm & 9pm Shows) Welcome Ashley Kahn back to the Century Room all the way from NYC joined by a live band! Ashley’s multimedia presentation begins at 5pm, followed by two sets of music by the Century Room Jazz Orchestra
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is a cultural giant and a musical pioneer. But why? Other than “Take the A Train”, what music should we remember him for? How many appreciate that he not only created the music that defined (and even named) the Swing era, but that he elevated Black American music to the level of art? How many understand that with his big bands and his compositions, he created a career formula for artistic and economic freedom. How many get that behind his tailored suits and sophistication, he was true revolutionary, using music to push for social justice and equality?
In fact, at a time when creating popular music was one of the few ways an African American artist could achieve a level of self-determination, Ellington’s entire career was a struggle for civil rights and personal respect. With images, music and videos, we will both examine and question his legend, to truly grasp the enduring stature of Duke Ellington and his music.
Ashley Kahn is a Grammy-winning American music historian, author, professor and producer. He teaches at New York University’, co-wrote Carlos Santana’s award-winning autobiography The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light (Little, Brown, 2014), and is a producer of Carlos (2023), the documentary on Carlos Santana. He has written books on two legendary recordings: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, and one on a legendary record label: The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records. His most recent book is George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters. He also edited Rolling Stone: The Seventies, a 70-essay overview of that pivotal decade.
Kahn, who was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Jazz Journalists Association, broke into the music business as a tour manager and music festival producer, has held a variety of positions in radio, television, and online businesses. As a journalist, his byline has appeared in many publications and websites, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The New Statesman, and others, and his writing has garnered four ASCAP/Deems Taylor awards, and three Grammy nominations. In 2015, he was awarded a Grammy for his album notes to the John Coltrane release Offering: Live at Temple University, and in 2017, he received the Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award for Excellence in Writing from the Jazz Journalists Association.