The smooth sound of jazz will fill the Black Hills area as the Dahl Arts Center hosts Ellington Uptown -- The Life and Music of American’s Premier Jazz Composer at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 in Rapid City.

This is the second show of the 2017-2018 Live at the Dahl concert series which kicked off on Sept. 22 and runs through March 2018.

This is the first year the Rapid City Arts Council has hosted the series. Emma Rivers, marketing director for the arts council said that this concert series will be bigger and better than anything they have in previous years.

“Previously we’ve had the Winter Series, which just ran January through March. This is the third year for the Jazz Series and we decided to bolster it,” Rivers said.

The idea to enhance the series is the result of community feedback, said Pepper Massey, executive director of the Rapid City Arts Council.

“One of the things we feel as an organization is that we’re responsive to the community. We had feedback from people in the audience saying, ‘We like this, we want to see more of this.’ We want to partner with the community and the people who attend our performances,” Massey said.

The show not only provides an entertainment factor, it also has an educational component. Hostess Katrina Lehr-McKinney will guide the audience through the life and times of jazz legend Duke Ellington as The JAS Quintet and The Jazz Curators play some of his most iconic hits including "Rockin’ in Rhythm," "Don’t Get Around Much Anymore," "Come Sunday," and "Such Sweet Thunder." The nine-piece ensemble features Jim Speirs and Jeff Soukup on trumpets; Ken Hoyne on trombone; Joel Shotwell, C.J. Kocher, and Ryan Hofer on saxophones; Jeff Paul on piano; Andrew Reinartz on bass; and Daniel Heir on drums.

JAS Quintet has been performing together since 2012 and is one of South Dakota’s premier jazz ensembles, touring as a part of the South Dakota Arts Council’s Touring Artist program, Massey said.

The quintet returns from having sell-out performances featuring the music of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis and will be joined by an all-star crew of regional jazz musicians. In addition to the music of Ellington, Monk, and Davis, JAS Quintet has performed favorites from Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Clifford Brown.

This is the third time the group has performed at the Dahl and the first time they will perform with additional musicians.

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“This is the biggest band we’ve had in my time here. Having nine musicians perform on one stage is pretty exciting,” Rivers said.

The show will also feature a dance performance during some of the songs. Dance instructors Michael and Amelia Kozielski will perform East Coast swing and Lindy dancing during the show.

“This concert is so unique and different because it has so many components. The performance is strong on its own, but we added some dancing of that period to tie into it. It will be a beautiful visual and listening experience,” Massey said.

Those unfamiliar with Duke Ellington’s music will have the chance to discover his legacy as a composer, pianist, bandleader, and a major figure in the history of jazz music. Ellington is recognized as an originator of big-band jazz and one of the most influential figures in jazz. He composed over 3,000 songs and played over 20,000 performances during his 50-year career. He called his music “American Music” rather than jazz because he said it “sounds like America.” Ellington continued to transcend music and influence fans of the genre until his death in 1974.

Tickets for Ellington Uptown are $25 ($20 for members) and $10 for students with a valid student ID. Tickets are available at thedahl.org/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 605-394-4101 ext. 200 or in person at the Dahl Arts Center, 713 7th St., Rapid City.

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