New Duke

Photo Credit: Jack Beggs

Step out of the winter chill and into a lively concert by jazz ensemble New Duke on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 3 p.m.  The Westport Arts Center jazz concert will be held at the Pequot Library in Southport, CT.

New Duke is an exciting eight-piece jazz ensemble that combines the past music of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club period through the 1960s with the modern grooves of hip-hop, rock and reggae. Their music experimentation with Ellington classics such as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Rockin’ in Rhythm” parallels Ellington’s approach of constant experimentation within his own music.

As an example of New Duke’s “mash-up style,” the band will take a song by The Doors, combine it with a Duke Ellington piece, and play it in a Jamaican ska style –- Jim Morrison meets Duke Ellington meets Bob Marley.

Jazz aficionados and novices will also enjoy a special talk from Brian Torff, New Duke bassist and composer, as part of the event.  He will discuss the influence of Duke Ellington and New Duke’s mash-up style.

“New Duke’s blend of melodies, rhythms, and sonic movements give audiences a new experience — complex yet accessible jazz that makes the heart swing,” said Torff, who also serves as both the director of jazz and popular music at Fairfield University and as the curator of the Westport Arts Center’s jazz series.

“You can’t replicate Ellington’s music, but you can build on it in new ways, and that’s what we try to do. We play Duke Ellington’s music but we mash it up with Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, James Brown, Pharrell Williams, and whatever else I throw in. This is a great opportunity to expose the whole family to the rich culture of American music,” Torff added.

The audience is also welcomed to be part of the New Duke experience.  In their “Mandela Freedom Suite,” an original tribute to the South African leader, the audience can join in with chanting and hand clapping.

In addition to Torff on bass, harmonica and vocals, New Duke consists of Darryl Tookes on vocals, Jamie Finegan, trumpet; 
Rick Sadlon, saxophone and flute; Steve Moran, tenor and baritone sax; 
John Fumasoli, trombone; Dave Childs, keyboards; and
Greg Burrows on drums.

The New Duke concert is the third in the Westport Arts Center’s diverse jazz music season featuring both internationally renowned talent and local rising performers.   Season ticket holders enjoy significant benefits. In addition to a cost savings of up to 15%, season ticket holders receive reserved preferred seating at all concerts, a free companion ticket to a concert and an opportunity to engage with the musicians immediately following the concerts.

Tickets for the concert are $25 for Westport Arts Center members, $30 for non-members and $10 for students. Concert tickets can be purchased through or by calling 203/222-7070.  A limited number of discounted Senior concert tickets will be available for presale at the Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Avenue, Westport.

Members of New Duke will also be part of the Westport Arts Center’s Jazz Jam on February 7, 2016.  The Jazz Jam will be a tribute to Don Mulvaney, the band’s late drummer, who passed away in September 2015.

The Westport Arts Center thanks WPKN for their support and sponsorship.

About the Westport Arts Center

The Westport Arts Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting community through the arts, reaches more than 11,000 people annually through outstanding programs in visual arts, arts education, and the performance arts of Chamber music and jazz.

The Westport Arts Center also receives philanthropic support from 4th Row Films, the Aibel Foundation, the Arnhold Foundation, Artur and Heida Hermanns Holde Foundation, Inc., Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bernstein Global Wealth Management, Borrowed – A Vintage Inspired Company, the Brant Foundation, CBP, Cannupa Foundation, the Carl Marks Foundation, Cohen and Wolf, P.C., the Connecticut Office of the Arts, EC Infosystems, Finn Dixon & Herling LLP, Fairfield County Bank, Fairfield County Community Foundation, Festivities, Gault, Energy, Geiger’s, GWAY Marketing Gymnasium, the Hall Art Foundation, KD & J Botanica, Land Rover Milford, Landtech, Lillian August, LLBH Private Wealth Management LLC, Madison/Mott, Main Street Resources/Green Village Initiative, Meadow Ridge, the Mitchell’s Family of Stores, Moffly Media, Newman’s Own Foundation, Riverside Management Group, Saugatuck Sweets, the Shack Sackler Foundation, the Sheffer Family Foundation, Sontag Advisory LLC, Stamford Tent, Steel Shed, Sun Hill Foundation, Thomas C. Hofstetter and Daniel Baron of The Saugatuck Group, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Westport Family Counseling, Westport Now, Westport Resources, Westport Special Education PTA, William J. Rosenbloom Charitable Trust, Xerox Foundation, WPKN, WSHU Public Radio Group, and Yellowtail.

For more information, contact the Westport Arts Center at (203) 222-7070 or   The Westport Arts Center gallery is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, CT.

Registration for our Fall Course Catalog is ongoing. Check out the classes for babies, kids, teens and adults.