Arts and Culture

American jazz ensemble to complement Ethiopian vocalist on Feb. 14

A rare performance will take place on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m., as Boston’s Either/Orchestra shares the stage of DU’s June Swaner Gates Concert Hall with one of Ethiopia’s most famous vocalists, Mahmoud Ahmed.

Either/Orchestra began collaborating with Ahmed in 2006, but the jazz ensemble and singer have only performed together in the United States on one other occasion.

Russ Gershon founded Either/Orchestra in 1985. Since then, the 10-piece jazz ensemble has performed more than a thousand concerts around the world.

Ahmed became famous in Ethiopia during the 1960s under Emperor Haile Selassie, beginning his career as a singer for the Imperial Body Guard Band. A huge fan of American big band music, Selassie encouraged the development of big band music in his country by financing the training of musicians.

Ethiopian jazz, the style of music developed under Selassie’s patronage, has “its own sound, its own African rhythms and its own colors drawn out of popular African music of the time,” according to Stephen Seifert, executive director of DU’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

The collaboration between Either/Orchestra and Ahmed completes a cultural circle, Seifert says, noting that African music heavily influenced early American jazz just as Ethiopian big band music borrowed from its American counterpart.

Gershon and French record producer Francis Falceto will give a pre-performance “Behind the Curtain” lecture at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets for the event, on sale now, are $38 for mezzanine and $28 for balcony. A limited number of orchestra and parterre seats are available for $38 rather than the standard price of $52. Ticket prices include parking.

Tickets can be purchased through the Newman Center, Ritchie Center and Ticketmaster box offices. For more information, call the Newman Center at 303-871-7720.

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