Jazz In The Key of Ellison featuring Will Downing, Nona Hendryx, Quiana Lynell, Nicholas Payton, and The Andy Farber Orchestra

Feb 22

8:00 PM

with narrator and host Roxane Gay

Friday, February 22, 2019

Inspired by the musical life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer Ralph Ellison, Jazz in the Key of Ellison is a multimedia concert featuring music by Ellison’s favorite artists including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Thelonious Monk. This star-led evening includes Grammy® Award-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton, R&B and jazz vocalist Will Downing, iconic Labelle singer Nona Hendryx and 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz vocal competition winner Quiana Lynell with the Andy Farber Jazz Orchestra. Roxane Gay, author of New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist, narrates.


Robert O'Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English, Columbia University, who has written extensively on Ralph Ellison, including The Craft of Ralph Ellison (Harvard, 1980), and a collection of papers for which he served as editor, New Essays on Invisible Man (Cambridge, 1989) will speak prior to this evening’s program. Joining O’Meally will be Don Katz, President and CEO of Audible to discuss how his mentor and teacher Ralph Ellison shaped his writing career and inspired him to found Audible.

Location: Grainger Ballroom
Time: 7-7:30 p.m.

Open to jazz series subscribers and members of the African American Network. RSVPs requested.

To be announced from stage.


Will Downing vocals
Nona Hendryx vocals
Quiana Lynell vocals
Nicholas Payton trumpet
Roxane Gay narrator and host

Andy Farber and His Orchestra
Andy Farber bandleader, arranger, tenor saxophone

Jay Brandford alto saxophone
Dan Bloch baritone saxophone, clarinet
Anthony Hervey trumpet
Jeffrey Miller trombone
TJ Reddick drums
Isaiah Thompson piano  
Jennifer Vincent bass
James Zoller trumpet

Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man (1952) is still required reading in college classes everywhere. But only the savviest jazz lovers know that since the mid-1940s — in his fiction, essays, letters, and published interviews — Ellison was one of the most broadly learned and eloquent writers on this music. His “invisible” but highly potent intellectual leadership has helped move jazz from smoky clubs and dance halls (which, by the way, he loved) to the hushed concert halls of the planet, into special collections of major museums and libraries, and to assigned reading lists everywhere. Read more at CSO Sounds & Stories


SCP Jazz series sponsor:

Media Sponsors:

Tonight’s concert is generously sponsored by Patricia Hyde and the Komarek-Hyde-McQueen Foundation.

Funding for educational programs during the 2018/19 SCP Jazz season has been generously provided by Dan J. Epstein, Judy Guitelman and the Dan J. Epstein Family Foundation

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.