Planet D Nonet

Friday, February 3, 2023 @ 7:30 pm - 11:30 pm$25
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Showtimes are at 7:30p & 9:30p for this performance.

(Doors open at 5pm for dinner. Seating begins at 6pm for “Dinner & a Show”. The second show starts seating at 9pm.)


This release by Planet D Nonet celebrates the music of Duke Ellington, music which is among the band’s favorites. It’s mostly gleaned from 1956 through1963. After decades of musical and commercial success, the first half of the 1950’s was a tough slog for big bands, even Ellington’s. It culminated in his summer 1955 Aquacade appearance, cited by critics as the nadir of the band’s thirty-year presence; they were billed below “Dancing Waters” and “Ice Show”! Newsday, Nassau Edition, Thursday, September 1, 1955. But it’s hard to keep genius at bay for long. The following twelve months saw the band’s fortunes reverse. The latter half of 1955 saw the return of Johnny Hodges, Duke’s most important soloist. Billy Strayhorn, whom Ellington called “my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brainwaves in his head, and his in mine” had pulled away from the orchestra for several years, but the two reunited in time to wax many of their greatest works for Columbia Records, another addition.

Planet D Nonet, helmed by percussionist/Detroit music champion, RJ Spangler, and ace trumpeter James O’Donnell, has been sniffing out neglected Jazz and Blues classics for the past fifteen years. Fletcher Henderson, Buddy Johnson, Sun Ra, and South African Jazz are a few of their many projects. In years past, PD9 crafted a disc of Billy Strayhorn’s music, and spent months absorbing Ellington’s Cotton Club material. For this adventure, they concentrated on later Ellington material, as Spangler noted. “I felt the last years of Duke’s career were very creative and offered little known gems for us to tackle.”

There is another reason he chose this interval. “I found this project to be very unifying for my band. Some players have a swing era perspective, others are more hard bop oriented. They could all find themselves in this music.” Duke Ellington’s music has a simple, critical element. It is a keystone of American culture. Younger musicians, generations removed from Ellington’s time, continue to “find themselves in his music,” to paraphrase Spangler. We hope you find yourself in Duke’s music, too.

-Jim Gallert and Rick Steiger October 2022


Friday, February 3, 2023
7:30 pm - 11:30 pm