Harlem’s swankiest speakeasy sets up shop at Bravo! Vail with red-hot blues from greats like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway. Virtuoso trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling headlines a night of swinging music, song and dance alongside diva extraordinaire Miche Braden, tap dance legend Ted Louis Levy, and the biggest big band in town.
DALLAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: JEFF TYZIK, CONDUCTOR
BYRON STRIPLING, MICHE BRADEN, TED LOUIS LEVY, ROBERT BREITHAUPT
Harlem’s swankiest speakeasy sets up shop at Bravo! Vail with singing, dancing, and red-hot blues from greats like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway.
RETURN TO THE COTTON CLUB
The Cotton Club was one of the unintended consequences of Prohibition. The venue at 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem that became the iconic—and infamous—“hot spot” of the Jazz Age was originally opened in 1920 by Jack Johnson, the first AfricanAmerican to become world heavyweight boxing champion, as a supper club called the Club Deluxe. When the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited all “intoxicating liquors,” had become effective at the beginning of that year, organized crime immediately moved in to supply the demand that no mere legislation could squelch, so in 1923, after being released from Sing-Sing, the notorious New York underworld figure Owney Madden (who wholly deserved his nickname, “The Murderer”) made Johnson an offer he couldn’t refuse and took over the Club Deluxe. Madden’s primary objective was to sell his illegal booze to the tony downtown crowd, so he expanded and glamorized the club, offered top-notch dance and musical entertainment, and, in line with the prevailing Jim Crow sensibilities of the time, segregated customers and employees—white in the seats, black on stage—and changed the name to “Cotton Club,” suggesting “King Cotton” and the old southern plantations.
Business flourished for the next decade. The Cotton Club became the nightspot in New York, visited by such notables as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, George Gershwin, Sophie Tucker, Al Jolson, Mae West, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Fanny Brice, Judy Garland, Moss Hart and even Mayor Jimmy Walker. (The club was closed down only once for liquor violations, briefly in 1925, continuing a long New York tradition of lenient police enforcement regarding such matters. When Theodore Roosevelt was the city’s police commissioner in the mid-1890s, he did much to rid the department of corruption but made little headway in enforcing the local Sunday closing laws.) Prohibition was repealed in 1933 but the Cotton Club continued to be successful—its Cotton Club Revue of 1934 ran for eight months and attracted over 600,000 paying customers—until the Harlem Riots of 1935 forced it to close. The club re-opened successfully in the midtown Theater District in 1936, but it was shut down for good four years later because of changing tastes and sensibilities, high rents, accusations of tax evasion, and the looming specter of war in Europe.
In its heyday, the Cotton Club featured some of the finest entertainment in the country, elaborately staged and costumed revues that were meant to evoke the grandeur of a Southern plantation or the exoticism of a jungle setting. Much of the atmosphere was created by the dancing of skimpily clad girls who were “tall, tan and terrific,” which meant they had to be at least five feet, six inches, light-skinned and under 21. The performances nurtured the careers of some of the most gifted musicians and dancers of the 20th century—Lena Horne (who was featured in the Cotton Club Revue of 1934 when she was just sixteen), Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge (the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Leading Actress for the 1954 film Carmen Jones; Hattie McDaniel had won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the 1939 Gone with the Wind), Sammy Davis, Jr., The Mills Brothers, Ethel Waters, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (who earned $3,500 a week after the Cotton Club reopened in midtown, the most ever paid to a black entertainer in a Broadway production to that time) and Stepin Fetchit (who later became the first black millionaire from his film work).
Well-known white songwriters like Dorothy Fields & Jimmy McHugh and Harold Arlen provided numbers for the Cotton Club revues, but much of the music was provided by the club’s succession of brilliant bandleaders: Fletcher Henderson when the club opened in 1923; Duke Ellington from 1927 to 1930, with frequent appearances thereafter; the inimitable Cab Calloway (whose “zoot suits” and “Hi-De-Ho” remain symbols of the Jazz Age); and Jimmie Lunceford. Ellington’s rise to international fame began at the Cotton Club—he was heard on nationwide radio broadcasts, recorded more than a hundred numbers, and composed not only dances and songs (including Mood Indigo and Creole Love Call, his first hit record) for the shows, but also overtures, transitions, accompaniments and “jungle” effects that allowed him to experiment and master a wide range of styles. Such was Ellington’s influence that the club somewhat relaxed its policy of excluding African-American guests at his request.
The Cotton Club, with its frenzied collision of powerful racial, social, criminal, musical and commercial streams, is an integral part of the American story. Its songs live on in performances and recordings, Broadway shows (the Tony-nominated Bubbling Brown Sugar of 1976 and the 2013 Ellington-inspired revue After Midnight), Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-nominated feature film Cotton Club (1984), and dozens of other movies and television shows, from James Cagney’s 1932 gangster film Taxi! to the wildly entertaining live action–animation hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit? of 1988. For those who would like to have an (almost) first-hand experience of the original Cotton Club, a remarkable live 1931 broadcast to Germany (with German commentary) has been preserved and issued on the German label Bear Family Records. The CDs are pricey, but include a large, illustrated book about the club. A generous except from each of the 53 tracks may be sampled at the firm’s web site: bear-family.com, search “Cotton Club.”
JEFF TYZIK, conductor
Jeff Tyzik is the Principal Pops Conductor for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
MICHE BRADEN, vocalist
Miche Braden is a singer, actor, musician, songwriter, arranger, and musical director.
TED LOUIS LEVY, tap dancer/vocalist
Ted Louis Levy is an Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominated tap dancer, choreographer, and Broadway performer.
BYRON STRIPLING, trumpet
A powerhouse trumpeter, gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger, Byron Stripling has delighted audiences internationally.
JEFF TYZIK, conductor
GRAMMY Award winner Jeff Tyzik is one of America’s most innovative and sought after pops conductors. Tyzik is recognized for his brilliant arrangements, original programming and engaging rapport with audiences of all ages. Tyzik holds The Dot and Paul Mason Principal Pops Conductor’s Podium at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Oregon Symphony and The Florida Orchestra. This season, Tyzik will celebrate his 23rd season as Principal Pops Conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Frequently invited as a guest conductor, Tyzik has appeared with the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Milwaukee Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In May 2007, the Harmonia Mundi label released his recording of works by Gershwin with pianist Jon Nakamatsu and the RPO which stayed in the Top 10 on the Billboard classical chart for over three months. Alex Ross of The New Yorker, called it “one of the snappiest Gershwin discs in years”.
Committed to performing music of all genres, Tyzik has collaborated with such diverse artists as Megan Hilty, Chris Botti, Matthew Morrison, Wynonna Judd, Tony Bennett, Art Garfunkel, Dawn Upshaw, Marilyn Horne, Arturo Sandoval, The Chieftains, Mark O’Connor, Doc Severinsen and John Pizzarelli. He has created numerous original programs that include the greatest music from jazz and classical to Motown, Broadway, film, dance, Latin and swing. Tyzik holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music.
Photo: Greenberg Artists
MICHE BRADEN, vocalist
Miche Braden is a singer, actor, musician, songwriter, arranger, and musical director. She is a product of the rich musical heritage of her hometown, Detroit, where she was an in residence with the Detroit Council of the Arts, the founder and former lead singer of Straight Ahead (women’s jazz band), and was a protégé of Motown musicians Thomas “Beans” Bowles, Earl Van Dyke (leader of The Funk Brothers), and jazz master composer Harold McKinney.
Miche’s performance as Bessie Smith in The Devil’s Music in New York earned the show four coveted award nominations: The Drama Desk “Best Actress in a Musical”; Off Broadway Alliance “Special Event”; and The Lucille Lortel and Audelco “Best Solo Show.”Miche was also nominated for the coveted Carbonell Award in Florida and the Connecticut Critics Award.
Recently Miche portrayed Mammy in the 2013 world premiere of Gone with the Wind, a musical adapted by Niki Landau at the Royal Manitoba Theater Centerin Winnipeg, Canada. Miche has appeared in and served as musical director/arranger in The People’s Temple, Gee’s Bend, The Bluest Eye, Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Hot Snow: The Story of Valaida Snow, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. She originated the character of Duchess DeLovely in the original cast o fHats: The Red Hat Society Musical.
As a singer, Miche has performed with Regina Carter, Alexis P. Suter, Milt Hinton, Lionel Hampton, and Frenchie Davis. She is featured on the James Carter release Gardenia’s for Lady Day (Sony/Columbia), and appeared with him at Carnegie Hall. Miche performed “New York State of Mind” in Movin’ Out on Broadway, and was dubbed “Billy Joel’s Piano Woman” by Fox 5 News. Miche’s talented and versatile work can be heard on Diva Out of Bounds, Ms. Miche (available on iTunes and CD Baby).
TED LOUIS LEVY, tap dancer/vocalist
Ted Levy, tap dancer and Broadway performer and choreographer, was born Ted Lewis Levy in Chicago, Illinois. His mother was a chorus dancer at the famed black-owned Club DeLisa, and he was trained at an early age in the rhythm-tap tradition of the renowned Sammy Dyer (who choreographed the 1939 Broadway musical The Swing Mikado). Levy was "discovered" by Dianne Walker and members of the Copasetics when they performed in the 1985 Chicago production Shoot Me While I'm Happy. He made his Broadway debut in the musical Black and Blue (1989), in which he was a featured dancer in "Butter and Egg Man," choreographed by Fayard Nicholas. The musical megahit won a number of Tony Awards, including one for its four choreographers—Cholly Atkins, Henry LeTang, Frankie Manning, and Nicholas. On television, Levy was awarded an Emmy for his television debut performance in the PBS Special Precious Memories, and he made his film debut in Spike Malcolm X (1992). That same year saw the production of Ted Levy and Friends; directed by Gregory Hines, it was a celebration of Levy's tap artistry. Influenced by Hines, Levy made his directorial debut in 1994 as director of Savion Glover's Dancing Under the Stars at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Delacorte Theater. In 1993, Levy collaborated with George C. Wolfe and Gregory Hines on the choreography for the Broadway production of Jelly's Last Jam, for which he received a Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award nomination, and Outer Critics Circle Award.
A versatile theater artist skilled in acting, sing, and tap dancing, Levy directed the workshop production of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. When that show, directed by George C. Wolfe, became a smash hit, with a planned move to Broadway in 1996, Levy was charged with recruiting and training young dancers in Savion Glover's hard-hitting rhythm-tap style. In February 1997, eight male students were enrolled in the first three-month course in which Levy taught them the rhythm-tapping styles of such masters as Lon Chaney, Chuck Green, and Jimmy Slyde, who had described the tradition as "the art of sound."
In 2001, Levy appeared with Gregory Hines in the television movie Bojangles. That same year, he returned to Broadway as Papa Jack in Susan Stroman and Harry Conick Jr.'s Thou Shalt Not. In 2010, Levy performed in A Night at the Cotton Club with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.
BYRON STRIPLING, trumpet
A powerhouse trumpeter, gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger, Byron Stripling has delighted audiences internationally. As soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Stripling has performed frequently under the baton of Keith Lockhart, as well as being featured soloist on the PBS television special, “Evening at Pops,” with conductors John Williams and Mr. Lockhart. Currently, Stripling serves as artistic director and conductor of the highly acclaimed, award winning Columbus Jazz Orchestra.
Since his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, Stripling has emerged as one of America’s most popular symphony pops guest artists, having performed with over 100 orchestras around the world including the Boston Pops, National Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Dallas Symphony, to name a few. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and performs at jazz festivals throughout the world.
An accomplished actor and singer, Stripling was chosen, following a world wide search, to star in the lead role of the Broadway bound musical, “Satchmo.” Many will remember his featured cameo performance in the television movie, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” and his critically acclaimed virtuoso trumpet and riotous comedic performance in the 42nd Street production of “From Second Avenue to Broadway.”
Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of The Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials, TV theme songs including “20/20,” CNN, and soundtracks of favorite movies.
Stripling earned his stripes as lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster. He has also played and recorded extensively with the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, and Buck Clayton in addition to The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and The GRP All Star Big Band.
Stripling enjoys conducting Seminars and Master Classes at colleges, universities, conservatories, and high schools. His informative talks, combined with his incomparable wit and charm, make him a favorite guest speaker to groups of all ages. STRIPLING was educated at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. One of his greatest joys is to return, periodically, to Eastman and Interlochen as a special guest lecturer.
A resident of Ohio, Stripling lives in the country with his wife, former dancer, writer and poet, Alexis and their beautiful daughters.
Photo: Greenberg Artists
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Where are the performances held?
Bravo! Vail orchestral concerts take place at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (GRFA) located at 530 S. Frontage Rd E Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts generally start promptly at 6pm (except for movie screenings which start at 7:30 or 8pm). The GRFA lobby opens 90 minutes prior to performances and gates open 60 minutes prior to performances. Please be sure to give yourself plenty of time to park and get into the venue; latecomers will be admitted at an appropriate interval, escorted by volunteers from the Bravo! Vail Guild.
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last under two hours. Please check performance pages beginning in April for specific running times.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, subscriptions, passes,and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
• Phone 877.812.5700 or Fax 970.827.5707
• Mail or in-person Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
• Email email@example.com
Ticket delivery methods are Mail, Print at Home, and Will Call. Bravo! Vail accepts all major credit cards (Amex, Visa, MasterCard and Discover), cash, and checks with proper identification. There is a $2 order fee per ticket.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. Starting June 17, hours include Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700.
The Gerald R Ford Amphitheater box office is open from 11am until concert start time (5pm on days with no concerts) beginning mid-June. Tickets for upcoming performances may be purchased on-site during concert intermissions.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up at the Box Office located to the right of the main entrance lobby. The Box Office is open 11am to concert start time beginning mid-June. Will Call tickets may also be picked up during concert intermissions.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Group sales discounts of up to 15% for groups of 15 or more are available to select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information, or view the Group Sales page.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
All sales are final. If you are unable to attend your concert, please call the Box Office at 877.812.5700 at least two hours prior to the concert to donate the tickets for resale or drop them off at the venue so seats can be filled by another music lover. You will receive a ticket release receipt in the mail. If you wish to give tickets to a friend, you may call the Box Office to leave them in your friend's name at Will Call.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
The Box Office can reprint your tickets if needed.
Where are seating options for people with disabilities?
Per the American Disability Act (ADA), the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA seating is available in Section 1 Row L and Section 4 Row O Premium Aisle, Premium, Reserved, and Saver sections which reflect all reserved seating zones and prices.
A limited number of ADA General Admission Lawn seats are available for sale behind Section 2; you must have a designated ADA lawn seat ticket in order to sit in this area.
By purchasing an ADA seat, you are stating that you require an ADA seat and if purchased fraudulently, you may be subject to relocation.
If you need further assistance purchasing ADA seating, please call the Box Office at 877.812.5700.
What should I bring to the concert?
If you have lawn seating at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, you should plan to bring a blanket to sit on, sunglasses, and a hat or visor. Lawn chairs with legs under 4 inches tall are allowed. Vail weather can be unpredictable so rain gear and a jacket are recommended. Concessions are available at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, but you are welcome to bring food and non-alcoholic sealed drinks. Per Colorado State Law, you may not bring outside alcoholic beverages into any Bravo! Vail venue. For your safety and the safety of all of our guests, backpacks, bags, purses, picnic baskets, and coolers will be checked upon entry to Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The following articles are not allowed:
• Alcoholic beverages (picnics and commercially sealed non-alcoholic beverages are permitted, and concessions with food and alcohol sales are available at the venue)
• Bikes, inline skates, scooters, and skateboards
• Cameras and recording devices
• Lawn chairs with legs higher than 4 inches (lawn chair rentals are $10)
What food and beverages are available for purchase at GRFA?
Popcorn, candy, burgers, sandwiches, and salads are available for purchase at concessions inside GRFA. A full bar is also available to purchase beer, wine, and alcohol. All major credit cards and cash are accepted for payment. In the pavilion seating, we recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission.
Food and commercially sealed non-alcoholic beverages may be brought into the GRFA.
What if it rains?
Concerts take place rain or shine. GRFA is an open-air venue. Refunds are not given due to weather unless a concert is canceled in its entirety with no performance rescheduled.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts — wear what makes you most comfortable! You can dress formally, or opt for jeans and a t-shirt, or anything in between. Just one word of advice: while the summers in Colorado are perfect, the evenings often bring rain showers and cooler temps. We recommend being prepared for both.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Check with the GRFA box office for lost items at intermission or call 970.748.8497.
What are some general rules of concert etiquette?
Above all, we want you to have a beautiful, musically rich concert experience. We ask that all concertgoers help to ensure a mutually enjoyable evening by silencing all devices such as cell phones and watch alarms. Please take time to turn these off prior to performances, so they don’t disrupt musicians and other patrons. Likewise, please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the music, so everyone can enjoy the concert undisturbed. In the pavilion seating, we recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission.
What else should I know?
Vail is at high elevation so don’t forget to hydrate and use sun protection. Visitors from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness when traveling to and visiting Vail. Be sure to drink water to allow your body to acclimate to the change in oxygen levels.
What if I still have questions?
Please don’t hesitate to contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Monday–Friday 9am–4pm MST with any questions you have.