By Michael Gioia
28 May 2014
This album collects Ellington's original recordings (between 1927-40) showcased in the musical revue After Midnight, a 2014 Tony nominee for Best Musical. It includes songs such as "It Don't Mean a Thing," "Stormy Weather" and "Cotton Club Stomp."
In other After Midnight news, the New York Post reports that Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin is interested in appearing in the show, but will only perform three to four shows a week instead of the scheduled eight.
LaBelle will play June 10-29 with Knight performing July 8-Aug. 3 and Cole performing Aug. 5-31 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
The musical reintroduces the Cotton Club's tradition of rotating guest stars. Grammy Award-winning recording artist Fantasia Barrino, who began the tradition (Oct. 18, 2013-Feb 9), has returned and continues through June 8.
After Midnight, according to press notes, "takes the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapults it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for modern Broadway audiences. Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight celebrates Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis. The timeless tunes set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway."
After Midnight was nominated for seven 2014 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle), Best Direction of a Musical (Warren Carlyle), Best Costume Design (Isabel Toledo), Best Featured Actress (Adriane Lenox), Best Lighting Design (Howell Binkley) and Best Sound Design (Peter Hylenski).