Count Basie Orchestra Performs with Special Guest Nnenna Freelon and Paquito D'Rivera Quintet at the Kimmel Center, September 28


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Kimmel Center Presents Mellon Jazz Sponsored by The Bank of New York Mellon

Timeless jazz performers, Nnenna Freelon with the Count Basie Orchestra, and the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet share the bill on the Verizon Hall stage at the Kimmel Center Friday, September 28, 2007 at 8pm in Verizon Hall to kick off the Mellon Jazz Fridays Series for the Kimmel Center Presents Sponsored by Citi 2007/2008 season. The tour celebrates a recent collaborative recording between Nnenna Freelon and the Count Basie Orchestra, as well as the 100th anniversary of Count Basie's birth and the 75th anniversary of the band. Sultry and scintillating jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, who is also a talented composer, producer and actress, joins the “Swingingest Band in All the Land," the Count Basie Orchestra, to perform selections from the Great American Songbook and to pay tribute to her jazz inspiration, Count Basie. Grammy® award-winning composer and musician Paquito D'Rivera opens the night with a set of Pan-Latin jazz.

An Artist Chat will take place in the Rendell Room with Mervon Mehta, Kimmel Center's Vice President of Programming and Education, and notable jazz clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera prior to the ticketed performance.

The concert is the first in the Mellon Jazz Fridays Series scheduled for the 2007/2008 season. The next concert in the series will be John Pizzarelli and the Swing Seven and Django Reinhardt Festival on Friday, November 2, 2007 at 8pm.

Tickets for Nnenna Freelon with the Count Basie Orchestra and the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet are $74, $64, $59, $46, $26 and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, online at www.kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center box office, open daily from 10am to 6pm and later on performance evenings. (Additional fees may apply.) For group sales call 215-790-5883.

A limited number of $10 tickets are available for every Kimmel Center Presents Sponsored by Citi performance at the Kimmel Center. Tickets go on sale the day of the event and can be purchased at the Kimmel Center box office beginning 2.5 hours prior to curtain time and 11:30am for matinees. Limit one ticket per person.

“Nnenna Freelon is hot...some 6000 Freelon converts are on their feet, ready, indeed eager, to embrace her...Freelon is a rare blend of estimable qualities - smart as Oprah, sassy as Sarah Vaughan," - JazzTimes

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Nnenna Freelon was first exposed to the arts, and especially jazz music, through singing in the church and her father's love of listening to Count Basie recordings. Most recently, Nnenna Freelon received her fifth Grammy® nomination for the 2005 release of Blueprint of a Lady: Sketches of Billie Holiday. She has recorded nine albums in the past 15 years and has performed and toured with jazz legends Ray Charles, Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau and George Benson. She was also awarded the prestigious Billie Holiday Award from the Academie du Jazz for her lifelong devotion to music and education. Aside from her obvious dedication to music, Freelon has made a commitment to the education of young people. For the past four years, she has toured the United States as the National Spokesperson for Partners in Education. She teaches classes and workshops across the country to motivate children and adults to change the world, one person at a time.

Freelon's greatest jazz inspiration, the Count Basie Orchestra, one of the most famous big bands in history, is an “American invention of the 20th century." William “Count" Basie grew up in New York City during the Swing Era. He eventually moved to Kansas City, where the orchestra debuted in 1935. Throughout the years, and after the death of William Basie in 1984, some members have come and gone, but today the Count Basie Orchestra consists of nineteen performers who are dedicated to upholding the standards of the “American Institution." Since its birth, the Kansas City Swing Style band has won 17 Grammy® awards, 2 Grammy® Hall of Fame honors and 9 Downbeat Readers and Critics Poll awards for Best Big Band.

“What a band the Count Basie Orchestra is. Jazz students should get out and hear these outfits. These guys will show them how it's done." - Mary Kunz, The Buffalo News

The Paquito D'Rivera Quintet celebrates 62 years on stage as he and his quintet share the bill for Nnenna Freelon and the Count Basie Orchestra. Paquito D'Rivera, born in Cuba, was a child prodigy who began his career playing the clarinet and the saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at the young age of six. He was introduced to a wider public as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra. Many years later, he was first recognized as a solo artist in 1996 by the Grammy Recording Academy with his recording Portraits of Cuba. D'Rivera has received numerous awards during his career including a ninth Grammy® in 2005 for Best Classical Recording and the National Medal for the Arts awarded by President George W. Bush. He also made history as the first artist to win Latin Grammy® awards in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories for Historia del Soldado (2003).

D'Rivera is a talented classical composer and performer who has toured with the London Royal Symphony, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet, he tours around the globe with his other groups including the Chamber Jazz Ensemble and the Paquito D'Rivera Big Band.

Paquito D'Rivera's Quintet includes bassist extraordinaire Oscar Stagnaro and trumpeter Diego Urcola, who both last performed at the Kimmel Center as part of Artistic Advisor Danilo Perez's 2005 Take the Col'train Jazz series. Stagnaro's mastery of playing different music styles including Jazz, Fusion, Latin Brazilian Jazz and South American music have distinguished him as a world class performer. Since 1991Urcola has been a member of the band, helping Paquito D'Rivera garner the 2001 Latin Grammy Award for the Live at the Blue Note album and appearing in D'Rivera's 2005 documentary and musical “Calle 54." Other band members include Israeli pianist Alon Yavnai, who performs regularly with Paquito D'Rivera and freelances with the New York Voices and violinist Regina Carter, among others; and drummer Eric Doob who has performed with Tiger Okoshi, Hal Crook, Grammy Award winner Oscar Stagnaro, among others.

“The orchestra as well as the soloist executed the work with perfect intonation and precise interpretation. At no time came the impression that two different musical worlds were colliding. The concert was an offering of excellence by virtue of the soloist and the orchestra..." - Peter Linhart, Main Echo Newspaper, Germany

“...by the time her show was over, there was no doubt that Freelon has now positioned herself in the very top echelon of jazz vocalists." - Los Angeles Times

“Mr. D'Rivera, a gifted saxophonist and clarinetist has become the man to call if you want a concert-hall presentation of Pan-Latin music." - Ben Ratliff, New York Times

This story appears courtesy of Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
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