In early 1917, The Original Dixieland Jass Band was in New York, having traveled from New Orleans via Chicago for an engagement at Reisenweber’s Cafe in Manhattan. They attracted an enthusiastic following and were soon booked into the recording studio at the Victor Talking Machine Company. On February 26, 1917, the band recorded “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jass Band One Step.” These titles, released on March 7, 1917 are recognized as the first jazz recordings. First marketed simply as a novelty, they were a surprise hit, giving many Americans their first taste of jazz.

In celebration of the centennial of this important milestone in the history of jazz, and the 100th birthdays of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk, Civic Music Association is proud to present Jazz 100. Featuring an all-star lineup of musicians, including Danilo Pérez (piano), Chris Potter (tenor sax), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), and vocalist Lizz Wright, this special performance is under the musical direction of Danilo Perez, former pianist for Dizzy Gillespie. An A-list rhythm section including Ben Street (bass), Adam Cruz (drums) and Roman Diaz (percussion) round out the lineup.

Together the musicians of Jazz 100 will perform essential examples of the groundbreaking music that emerged following those pivotal 1917 recordings in New York, with special focus on the music of Ella, Dizzy, Monk and Mongo.


Johannes Brahms – Horn Trio – I (1865) for violin, horn, piano

György Ligeti – Horn Trio – II (1982) for violin, horn, piano

Marcos Balter – memória (2007) for solo cello

Jessie Marino – Witford Rimley and his Robotic Dog Seize Burger King in a Bloodless Coup (2013) for performer(s) and two transducers

Hector Berlioz – Mongagnard Exile (1823) for two sopranos, harp

LJ White – World Premiere (2017) for two sopranos, saxophone, horn, harp piano, violin, cello, bass

Greg Saunier – Deerhoof Chamber Variations (2013) for two sopranos, saxophone, horn, harp piano, violin, cello, bass

Young chamber musicians the world over are pushing boundaries. They are reimagining and rearranging popular songs, mixing Bach and Metallica, or Stravinsky and Katy Perry, with surprising results. They are incorporating elements of classical, country, world, jazz or gypsy music into their playing. They are working with contemporary songwriters and commissioning new works that slide between classical and pop idioms.  They are improvising. They are creating new forms of expression.

Ensemble Dal Niente, a 22-member Chicago-based contemporary music collective, is deeply involved in this exploration, performing new music that redefines the listening experience and advances the art form.

Described as a group of “super musicians” and noted for its presentation of “bracing sonic adventures by some of the best new-music virtuosos around” (Chicago Tribune), Ensemble Dal Niente’s projects have exhibited an adventurous approach and an uncommon range that reflects the diversity of music in the world today.

For their Civic Music Association concert, Dal Niente (which means “from nothing” in Italian) will perform important 19th century chamber works, juxtaposed against 20th and 21st century compositions that respond to the earlier works. And they will perform a work called Deerhoof Chamber Variations, the result of a collaboration with the drummer and composer Greg Saunier from the indie-rock band Deerhoof.

They will also perform the World Premiere of a new piece commissioned by Civic Music, to be written LJ White and based on a song by Des Moines-based musician Christopher Ford (aka Christopher the Conquered).  White is a composer from Chicago who has worked with some of the most exciting players in contemporary music, including Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble SIGNAL, the Jack Quartet, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Talea Ensemble, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

“It’s kind of like a little musical “think tank” – thinking up repertoire, concert ideas, composers to approach, then figuring out how to turn them into reality.” Ben Melsky, Ensemble Dal Niente harpist

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Pianist Aaron Diehl is one of the most sought after jazz virtuosos, consistently playing with what The New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” His meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations and compositions are for spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh jazz artistry.

Mr. Diehl began studying classical piano at age 7 and discovered his passion for jazz music when attending Interlochen Summer Camp in Michigan. There, he met piano prodigy Eldar Djangirov, who made a lasting impression on Diehl by sharing his enthusiasm for Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum. In 2002, Diehl was a finalist in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition, where he was awarded “Outstanding Soloist.” The following year, right out of high school, he was invited to tour with the Wynton Marsalis Septet on their European tour.

In an interview, when asked about his experience of touring with Wynton Marsalis, Mr. Diehl said “I got a call from Wynton out of the blue, literally, when I was practicing in the living room at home. He asked me to come and play with him in Europe. Initially, I told him “No.” [Jazz saxophonist] Wess Anderson’s wife called me and said, “Are you crazy? Why would you say ‘no’ to Wynton Marsalis?'” … Playing with Wynton’s septet enlightened me to how difficult and how much work it is to be an exemplary jazz musician. … Wynton was as hard on me as he was with everybody else in his band. He required the best from his musicians. You can imagine what that was like for a seventeen-year-old from Ohio.”

Joining Mr. Diehl for this Civic Music concert will be vibraphonist Warren Wolf, who like Mr. Diehl is a classically trained jazz virtuoso. Mr. Wolf hails from Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of Peabody Preparatory, Baltimore School for the Arts and Berklee College of Music, where soon after graduation he was asked to join the faculty as percussion instructor.

Mr. Wolf is now a full-time touring musician, having released several recordings as a leader, including Incredible Jazz Vibes and Black Wolf.

The Manhattan Transfer was founded in 1969 by Tim Hauser, a singer with a love of rhythm and blues and an ear for tight harmonies. The group underwent several lineup changes before 1978, when Mr. Hauser, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel were joined by Cheryl Bentyne. This quartet performed together for the next 35 years. Trist Curliss joined the group following Mr. Hauser’s death in 2014.

Their first hit, “Operator,” was released in 1975, followed by “The Boy From New York City” in 1981, when they made history as the first group to win Grammy Awards in both Pop and Jazz categories in the same year. The 12 Grammy nominations they received for their album Vocalese in 1985 is second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller as most nominated album, and cemented the group’s status as one of the most important and innovative vocal groups in the history of popular music.

“Route 66” and their rendition of “Birdland” remain among the most beloved of their recordings, which include 19 singles and 29 albums. With worldwide record sales in the millions, their melodic and jazz-infused vocals continue to attract audiences spanning generations.

TAKE 6 has come a long way since their days at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, where Claude McKnight formed the group as The Gentleman’s Estate Quartet in 1980. When tenor Mark Kibble heard the group rehearsing in the dorm bathroom, he joined in the harmonies and performed on stage with them that night. Mr. Kibble later invited Mervyn Warren to join the group, now a sextet performing under the moniker Alliance.

The group performed in local churches and on campus, with members changing due to college’s inevitable comings and goings. In 1985, the lower half of the group (bass, baritone, and second tenor) left upon graduating. At that time, Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, and David Thomas joined.

The group was signed to Warner Brothers in 1987, and quickly changed its name to TAKE 6 after a name search revealed Alliance was in use. Says McKnight: “TAKE 6 was all about a democratic process of throwing a couple of hundred names at each other and TAKE 6 was the one that got the most yay votes. It pretty much was a play on the Take 5 jazz standard and the fact that there are six of us in the group.”

Since release of their first self-titled album in 1988, TAKE 6 has been recognized as the quintessential a cappella group in virtually every genre. And they are certainly the most rewarded, with 10 Grammys, 10 Dove Awards (Gospel Music Awards), seven consecutive years as DownBeat magazine’s Critic’s and Reader’s Poll Best Jazz Vocal Group, a Soul Train Music Award, Black Radio Exclusive Vocal Group of the Year, and induction into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. Heralded by Quincy Jones as the “Baddest vocal cats on the planet!” TAKE 6 – now comprised of Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley – captivates audiences wherever they perform.

The game-changing brass quintet Canadian Brass has performed in virtually every major concert hall in the world, been seen by hundreds of millions of people on television, sold 2 million of their approximately 100 albums worldwide and contributed nearly 600 new works and arrangements to the brass quintet repertoire. The first brass ensemble to tour China and the first to play the main stage at Carnegie Hall, they are almost single-handedly responsible for elevating the art of the brass quintet to what it is today.

Canadian Brass is made up of five extraordinary talents: visionary founder, tuba legend Chuck Daellenbach plus four of the next generation’s top brass stars—Caleb Hudson and Christopher Coletti (trumpets), Achilles Liarmakopoulos (trombone) and Bernhard Scully (horn). Beyond their unbelievable technical skills and musicality, each player possesses the creativity, good humor and genuine love of performing that has become the hallmark of Canadian Brass.

When asked in an interview about finding a balance between virtuosity and entertainment, Mr. Daellenbach said the ensemble is “very conscious of the fact that when we were in the concert environment, these people have made an effort to come. We’re really grateful. Now it’s our responsibility to make sure that they have a really nice experience while they’re there, meaning they hear some of the greatest music ever written. They’re also entertained. For whatever reason you can listen to a string quartet for an hour, an hour-and-a-half, two hours and it seems to make sense. Brass can get a little tedious. So we’re very conscious that, maybe because of the power of brass, we’re conscious of the fact that we want to vary the experience. So we kind of make the effort of being sure to play Bach, but we also do early American jazz and we also have some fun with the opera, Carmen. So the variety is inside of the programming that we do.”

Renowned as a musical pioneer, cellist Matt Haimovitz has inspired classical music lovers and countless new listeners by bringing his artistry to concert halls and clubs, outdoor festivals and intimate coffee houses, any place where passionate music can be heard. He brings a fresh ear to familiar repertoire, champion’s new music and initiates groundbreaking collaborations as well as creating innovative recording projects.

Mr. Haimovitz made his debut in 1984, at the age of 13, as soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. At 17 he made his first recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Deutsche Grammophon. He has gone on to perform on the world’s most esteemed stages, with such orchestras and conductors as the Berlin Philharmonic with James Levine, the New York Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta, the English Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano.

The solo cello recital is a Haimovitz trademark, both inside and outside the concert hall. For his Civic Music Association concert, Mr. Haimovitz will perform movements from Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, some of the most moving and spiritual compositions for a solo instrument in history.

His Saturday night concert will be preceded by A Moveable Feast on Friday – a day of free performances by Mr. Haimovitz in different locations in Des Moines. At each location he will perform one movement from Bach’s Suites and one of the seven overtures written in response to Bach by Philip Glass, Vijay Iyer, Du Yun and others.

A Moveable Feast

  • 9:30 AM Central Library Chess Garden
  • 12:00 PM Wellman YMCA
  • 4:00 PM Cowles Commons


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