October 2, 2023


El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

SB Symphony to present Josh Nelson and his Jazz Quartet September 10

4 min read

Photo courtesy SB Symphony Library: The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra will present noted pianist- composer-bandleader Josh Nelson on September 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic San Bernardino Valley College Auditorium.

On September 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the San Bernardino Valley College Auditorium, jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader Josh Nelson and an all-star jazz quartet assembled specifically for this concert will delve into one of the greatest musical collaborations of the 20th century: the iconic music of jazz legends Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Shared Music Director and Conductor Anthony Parnther, “Josh Nelson, without question, is one of California’s preeminent jazz soloists and band leaders. We’ve been planning this in-depth exploration of the genius of American icons Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn for a couple of years now, and this concert moves the San Bernardino Symphony into a new stratum of relevance and excitement. We should expect a mixture of standards, fresh new arrangements, and also taking a peek into the symphonic side of Ellington as Josh Nelson and his band of virtuoso artists combine forces with our symphony.”

“The outstanding quality of musicians our Maestro has engaged for these up close and personal concerts is something that cannot be overstated,” said Symphony Board President and former San Bernardino Mayor Judith Valles. “I, for one, cannot wait to experience all that is planned and I look forward to welcoming the community to this marvelous evening!”

Single tickets for all SBSO concerts are available online at www.sanbernardinosymphony.org or by calling the box office at (909) 381-5388. Money-saving five-concert season subscriptions are also still available, but only until the

date of this concert. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

An Iconic Collaboration

If you are familiar with the jazz composition, “Take the A Train,” then you know something about not only Duke Ellington, but also Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn, its composer.

Duke Ellington was one of the most important creative forces in the music of the twentieth century. His influence on classical music, popular music, and, of course, jazz, simply cannot be overstated.

He became interested in music in his early teens and learned James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout” from a piano roll. Soon he was part of a small jazz band in Washington. In 1923, he moved to New York and early in 1924 he became the leader of his band. Soon he was recording, and in 1927 Ellington’s band was hired to play regularly at the Cotton Club. By 1930, Ellington and his band were famous.

In 1931, he was invited to visit the White House, and in 1933 his band made its first European tour, a huge triumph. In the years that followed, Ellington continued to grow musically, and the quality of his band continued to improve, reaching what many consider to be a peak from 1939 through the early 1940s.

Billy Strayhorn joined Ellington’s band in 1939, at the age of twenty-two. Ellington liked what he saw in Billy and took this shy, talented pianist under his wing. According to The Duke Ellington Society, “Neither one was sure what Strayhorn’s function in the band would be, but their musical talents had attracted each other. By the end of the year, Strayhorn had become essential to the Duke Ellington Band; arranging, composing, and sitting-in at the piano. Billy made a rapid and almost complete assimilation of Ellington’s style and technique. It was difficult to discern where one’s style ended and the other’s began, but the results of the Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration has brought significant joy to the jazz world.”

Meet Josh Nelson

Born and raised in Southern California, noted pianist-composer-bandleader Josh Nelson has performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, Benny Golson, Sheila Jordan, John Clayton, George Mraz, Jeff Hamilton, Dave Koz, Joe Chambers, and Peter Erskine.

Nelson toured with legendary vocalist Natalie Cole for six years and continues to tour with vocalists Gaby Moreno, Freyda Payne, Alicia Olatuka, Sara Gazarek, and others. He taught jazz for four years at Soke University and more recently at Cal State University Northridge. In 2008, Nelson was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano competition.

His debut album as a leader, 2004’s Anticipation, garnered significant industry attention while his 2007 follow-up, Let it Go, was hailed by Jazz Times, All About Jazz and Jazz Review as a fully-realized breakthrough album. Nelson’s next album, 2009’s I Hear a Rhapsody, had him re-imagining Jerry Goldsmith’s “Theme From Chinatown,” Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Here’s That Rainy Day,” and Elliot Smith’s “Everything Means Nothing To Me” while contributing seven affecting originals.

With 2011’s sci-fi influenced Discoveries, Nelson introduced his Discovery Project, an immersive multi-media presentation combining video, performance art, light and art installations, with his original music.

Two concerts follow in the Symphony’s 2022 season

The Orchestra will return to the California Theatre on October 29, 2022 for “Movies with the Maestro” featuring cinema scores including John Williams’ iconic music from E.T. and Star Wars and the Alfred Hitchcock film scores of Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest). The season will conclude December 17, 2022 with Cirque de Noel featuring the internationally renowned Cirque de la Symphonie troupe performing to orchestral holiday classics.

Tickets are available online at www.sanbernardinosymphony.org or by calling the Symphony office at (909) 381-5388.


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