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  • WDCH
  • Jan. 24, 2004
  • Composer/Pianist George Duke Featured


    Additional media support provided by KKJZ

    As part of its Jazz Series, the Los Angeles Philharmonic premieres a new work by jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, January 24, at 8 p.m. The piece, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is entitled For Suzanne and features the Los Angeles Philharmonic joined by jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and a jazz rhythm section. The evening also includes performances by composer/pianist George Duke and composer/pianist Billy Childs. The rhythm section includes bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Greg Hutchinson, and percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

    In addition to the new Philharmonic commission, the program also includes a performance of the Muir Woods Suite by George Duke, with orchestra, rhythm section, and Duke on piano. Reeves performs other small group numbers without Philharmonic accompaniment, and the evening closes with all of the musicians performing together in the finale.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic's jazz series continues on Monday, March 15, with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and concludes on Saturday, May 1, with the Herbie Hancock Quartet performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic commission by Childs was made possible by a generous contribution from Michael Tennenbaum. The piece is named for his wife Suzanne.

    WILLIAM HENRY CURRY is in his seventh season as Associate Conductor of the North Carolina Symphony. In July 2002, he was also named to the post of Interim Artistic Planning Advisor. He came to the North Carolina Symphony by way of New Orleans, where he served as Resident Conductor of the New Orleans Symphony. Curry serves as the artistic director for Summerfest and all North Carolina Symphony summer programs. He also conducts classical, educational, and pops concerts throughout the state. A native of Pittsburgh, Curry started conducting at age 14. His first major appointment was at age 21 when he was named Assistant Conductor of the Richmond Chamber Orchestra. On the same day, he was called in to replace a conductor who suddenly became ill for a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, an unexpected debut was hailed by critics and audience alike. He went on to serve as Resident Conductor with the Baltimore Symphony for six years (1978-1983) and with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for two years (1983-1985). Curry was appointed Associate Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony in 1983, a post he held until 1988, the same year he won the Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition and performed in Carnegie Hall. Curry's other guest-conducting appearances have included performances with the Cleveland, Houston, National, Detroit, Denver, American, and San Diego Symphonies. In November of 1997 he made his debut with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem orchestra; his other international engagements have included performances in Bangkok with the Sai Jai Thai Orchestra and in Taipei with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. This season he makes appearances as guest conductor with the Indianapolis, Detroit, New Jersey, and Mississippi Symphonies, as well as the Tulsa Philharmonic.

    One of the most promising of the pianist-composers of the 1990s, BILLY CHILDS is a superb player and composer. He toured with J.J. Johnson (with whom he made his recording debut), graduated from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, and had an important association with Freddie Hubbard (1978-1984), and led Night Flight, a group with jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves. Childs recorded four albums as a leader for Windham Hill Jazz (starting in 1988) and one for Stretch; started writing commissioned works in 1992 (including a 1994 concerto for the Monterey Jazz Festival); and has worked with Allan Holdsworth, Eddie Daniels, Bobby Hutcherson, and Branford Marsalis, among others, in addition to leading his own regular quartet.

    Jazz pianist GEORGE DUKE studied piano at the San Francisco Conservatory where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 1967. While attending school, he ran a Latin band and was a resident pianist at the Half Note, accompanying musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Dorham. He became a solo artist in 1976, and enjoyed success with a series of fusion-oriented LP's such as his debut CBS LP, From Me To You. In the late 70s, Duke decided to focus on producing as a career. He began by producing the Brazilian instrumentalist Raoul de Souza, then made his first vocal album with singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. His breakthrough came with an album by A Taste Of Honey. He went on to produce three albums for Jeffrey Osborne (including the Top Ten pop "On The Wings Of Love") and two best-sellers for Deniece Williams (including her across-the-board Number One smash "Let's Hear It For The Boy"). Duke also wrote and produced the Number One single "Sweet Baby" for his own recording with Stanley Clarke (The Clarke/Duke Project). His other production projects included recordings by Phil Perry, Miles Jaye, vocalist Dianne Reeves, The Pointer Sisters, 101 North, Najee, Jeffrey Osborne, Take 6, Howard Hewett, Chante Moore, Everette Harp, Rachelle Ferrell and, most recently, Gladys Knight, Keith Washington, Johnny Gill and Anita Baker.

    A Blue Note/EMI recording artist since 1987, DIANNE REEVES has earned five Grammy nominations. She won consecutive Best Jazz Vocalist Grammys in 2000 and 2001 for her albums In the Moment and The Calling. Reeves was recently featured with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for several Duke Ellington projects in celebration of Ellington's Centennial. A recording with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony and a concert appearance at Carnegie Hall with Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of St. Luke's were among her many other appearances associated with the Ellington Centennial salute. In 2002, Reeves performed at the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The 2002 season finale of HBO's "Sex and the City" also featured an appearance and performance by Reeves. Her newest album, A Little Moonlight, was released in August 2003. Reeves was recently nominated for a Grammy Award and was appointed Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association in March 2002.

    Drummer GREG HUTCHINSON appears on many jazz albums including numerous recordings with Ray Brown; the Ron Blake quartet; Bob Belden; and Peter Bernstein. He was most recently heard on the 2003 Ron Blake recording Lest We Forget. In addition to being a current member of Dianne Reeves' band, Hutchinson has collaborated with many leading jazz artists including Benny Green, Kevin Mahogany, Claire Martin, and Peter Washington.

    Though DARYL "MUNYUNGO" JACKSON began his musical career as a classical pianist, he began to play timbales at age 17 with his high school classmates in a Latin jazz band. Throughout his career he has worked with traditional drummers from Africa, Latin America, China and Japan, building an international résumé of musical styles, as well as a collection of over 400 pieces of equipment. Jackson has also performed with artists such as Willie Bobo, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Miles Davis, and Anita Baker, as well as working on a number of film and television soundtracks. He has also performed and toured with Jean Luc Ponty and Dianne Reeves.

    Bassist REUBEN ROGERS has been widely recorded. He appears on albums with Darren Barrett, Carl Allen, Aaron Goldberg, the Ron Blake Quartet and the Wycliffe Gordon sextet. Currently part of Dianne Reeves' band, Rogers has also worked with many other jazz artists including Anthony Wonsey, Gregory Hutchinson, Joshua Redman, Tim Warfield, Vincent Herring, and Jimmy Greene.


    Saturday, January 24, at 8 p.m.

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles


    WILLIAM HENRY CURRY, conductor

    DIANNE REEVES, vocals

    GEORGE DUKE, composer/piano

    BILLY CHILDS, composer/piano



    MUNYUNGO JACKSON, percussion

    Additional media support provided by KKJZ.

    Tickets ($25 - $80) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office, online at, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For more information, please call 323.850.2000.

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    Elizabeth Hinckley, 213.972.3034; Ryan Jimenez, 213.972.3405; for photos: Beth Norber, 213.972.3409