Austin Symphony Orchestra:
Ella & Louis
Palmer Events Center, December 29 & 30
by Neal Baker
This month, the Austin Symphony Orchestra is taking a break from the usual goings-on of the concert hall to take a trip down jazz memory lane. On Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th, Peter Bay and company will bring “Ella & Louis” to the Palmer Events Center, a retrospective look at the beloved and historical collaboration between Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Their individual musical careers spanned decades and touched countless listeners and peers. But the crossing of their paths in the 1950s produced something entirely its own, and gave us one of history’s most charming vocal pairings.
The ASO’s homage to this duo features soloists Carmen Bradford and Byron Stripling filling the roles of Fitzgerald and Armstrong, respectively. Their chemistry is already there: The two performed together in the Count Basie Orchestra during the 1980s. This won’t be the first time that Stripling will portray the legendary trumpet player and singer, perhaps on account of his stage character and colorful playing style. Bradford’s vibrant delivery makes for a perfect match, completing a fitting likeness of the pair. But of course to paint Bradford and Stripling simply as imitators would be to undersell their talents. As Bradford and Stripling pay respect to these classic figures and their songs, each artist brings a unique sensibility to this music, which never goes out of style.