Wednesday, November 10, 2021


Virtual Performance by Alexis Cole; Metuchen Arts Council Education Program on Ellington and Strayhorn

Alexis Cole

WHEN: Thursday, November 18, 7 p.m.
streamed on the website as well as on the NJJS Facebook page and YouTube channel. It will be archived on and the YouTube channel.
ADMISSION: There is no admission charge, but donations are welcome and appreciated.
Funding for the NJJS Socials has been made possible, in part, by Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

In the November issue of Jersey Jazz Magazine, Joe Lang reviewed Cole’s new Zoho album, Sky Blossom: Songs from My Tour of Duty. The recording, Lang wrote, “presents her in the setting in which she performed during her Army stint (seven years as the vocalist with the U.S. Army’s West Point-based Jazz Knights).” It’s a big band album that includes a variety of familiar jazz and popular standards including the Gershwins’ “Love is Here to Stay,” Miles Davis’ “All Blues” (lyrics by Oscar Brown, Jr.), and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Triste.” At the November 18th Virtual Social, Cole will sing selections from the album, plus some additional standards, and one of her originals. (Photo by Jeremy Kim)

Cole recently returned to her alma mater, William Paterson University, as Chair of the Jazz Vocal program, succeeding her mentor, Nancy Marano, who has retired. She’ll also continue to teach Vocal Jazz at SUNY Purchase. “I feel grateful,” she said, “to be at the two greatest local conservatories close to my home.” Two of her former students at Purchase have recently been featured in Jersey Jazz — Lucy Wijnands (‘Rising Star’, June 2021) and Samara Joy (‘On the Road Again’ (July/August 2021).

David Hajdu: T
hree Different Phases in the Composing Careers of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn
WHEN: Sunday, November 21, at 3 p.m. 
WHERE: available on the website as well as on the NJJS Facebook page and YouTube channel. If you can’t watch it live, it will also be archived on and the NJJS YouTube channel.
ADMISSION: Attendance is free, but donations are suggested. 

In the world of popular song, the perennial question is, “Which came first, the words or the music?” If there’s a parallel in jazz, it may be the question, “Who wrote that, Duke Ellington or Billy Strayhorn?”

David Hajdu, a professor at Columbia University and author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn (North Point Press: 1996) will address the latter in his upcoming talk—Ellington and Strayhorn: Alone and Together—sponsored by the Metuchen Arts Council-Jazz in collaboration with the New Jersey Jazz Society. (Photo by Takako Harkness)

Hajdu, originally from Phillipsburg, NJ, plans to open his discussion by considering the music each of the two composers made prior to their meeting in December,1938. He will take up an exemplary set of collaborations between them during their years of their close association; and he will examine the music Strayhorn made outside the Ellington orbit in his final days, as well as the music Ellington was inspired to write after Strayhorn’s death in 1967.