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It really is the concert of the century.

Flushing Town Hall will present NEA Jazz Masters: Celebrating 100 Years of Dizzy and Monk on Friday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m.

The performing musicians — all of whom hold the title “Jazz Master” from the National Endowment of the Arts — will honor the legacies and contributions of Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk to the genre. They will groove through special arrangements of classic compositions by Gillespie and Monk, including “Groovin’ High” and “Round Midnight.”

Gillespie helped usher in the Bebop Era, but he was also a founding father of the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz traditions. The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner was famous for his virtuoso trumpet skills and uncanny ability to improvise. But his bent instrument and baggy, big-pouch cheeks (due to so much blowing his instrument) also became part of his legend.

And though born in South Carolina, Gillespie lived at 105-19 37th Ave. in Corona for many years. (He’s buried in Flushing Cemetery, where another famous Corona resident, Louis Armstrong, rests.)

Monk was also a main proponent of Bebop, which grew out of Swing, but his main instrument was the piano. Also known for an improvisational style, his highly percussive piano technique is now part of the standard jazz repertoire. Plus, he would often stand up from the keyboard or piano and dance for a few moments before sitting down again during concerts.

As a composer, he created many dissonances and angular melodic twists with dramatic use of silences and hesitations. And the North Carolina native gained fame for his flamboyant suits and hats. Monk, who won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a special Pulitzer Prize for his body of work, actually grew up in Manhattan, where he lived for most of his life.

These two legends have died, but if they were still alive today, both would have celebrated their 100th birthdays this past October.

The NEA Jazz Masters who will take the stage are Kenny Barron on piano, Jimmy Owens on trumpet, Jimmy Cobb on drum, Lew Tabackin on saxophone, Rufus Reid on bass, and Antonio Hart on saxophone. Another NEA Jazz Master, Flushing resident Jimmy Heath, was also scheduled to play saxophone, but he recently cancelled due to an illness.

Tickets are $42, but students only pay $20. Flushing Town Hall now has a Teen Access Program, and all 13-to-19 year olds can attend any performance for free.

Images: Courtesy of Flushing Town Hall


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