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Go Big With Duke Ellington’s Band

Most people have heard Duke Ellington’s music. But for some — like Scott O'Neil, Associate Conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra — Ellington’s lure is much more personal. “My father was a high-school band director and had his own stage band through college," O'Neil remembers. "He'd play albums around the house when I was young, and I started hearing Ellington's music mixed in with the other greats."

O'Neil's lifelong love for Ellington will be on display tonight when he conducts the Duke Ellington Orchestra — the ensemble that's carried on Ellington's big-band elegance following his death in 1974 — at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The show will feature jazzed-up Christmas classics alongside selections from Ellington's own vast repertoire. "Perhaps the greatest trait that stands out about Ellington is his songwriting skill, his truly singable melodies,” O’Neil says. “From 'Sophisticated Lady' and 'Don't Get Around Much Anymore' to faster tunes like 'It Don't Mean a Thing,' the tunes are sophisticated and often chromatic, but still always memorable."

The all-ages concert starts at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Boettcher Concert Hall, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; for tickets, $45 to $95, and more info, call 303-623-7876 or visit
Tue., Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., 2009


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