Events downtown

Apr 27

Novel Jazz Septet Celebrates Duke Ellington’s 125th Birthday
Location: 76 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101, US
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event website

The musicians of “Novel Jazz” have been performing straight-ahead jazz around Maine and New England for over three decades. They draw from the Great American Songbook and specialize in the works of Edward Kennedy (“Duke”) Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The band members hail from all over Maine…Belfast, Buxton, Chebeague Island, Gardiner, Newcastle, Vassleboro as well as Westbrook. They perform regularly in mid-coast Maine (the town of Damariscotta, at the Skidompha Public Library; approximately four times per year) as an effort to keep jazz alive in the state. Fifteen years ago, they embarked on a project to go through the massive archive of compositions by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn– who wrote about 2,500 pieces between them– transcribe some lesser known gems for the band and reinterpret them with a 21st century sound. Their first CD was released in 2008, their second was released in 2011. The band released their third CD, “Novel and Novelle… More unearthed treasures by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington” in June 2015. Their fourth CD was released in the summer of 2019. Public radio did a special radio news interview on the Ellington/Strayhorn project of Novel Jazz. Miscellaneous press clippings can be found here. Several two-hour programs dedicated to Novel Jazz have been broadcast on Maine Public Radio’s jazz show, “Jazz Tonight” over the years.

These are all seasoned jazz guys, and the result is a sound that made me sway, smile, groove, slow-dance with myself around the living room and play the air snare drums. Note to self: Bring this disc to work and impress jazz-appreciating boss. — Aimsel Ponti, Music Writer, Portland Press Herald