Two BHC music instructors will grace the stage at the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming Masterworks II: Fit for a King performances Saturday, Nov. 5 and Sunday, Nov. 6.
Dr. Jim Buennig (applied lesson faculty, saxophone) and Corey Kendrick (full-time faculty, jazz) will be featured in Duke Ellington’s jazz- and gospel-influenced, “Three Black Kings.”
“This was Ellington’s final composition. Like all of his compositions, Ellington’s uncanny ability to tell stories through vivid orchestration and character development is hard at work here,” Buennig says.
Alongside his other orchestral compositions (“Black, Brown and Beige,” “Harlem” and “Night Creature”), “Three Black Kings” shows Ellington’s characteristic big band orchestration augmented by the full orchestra.
“The fusion of the Western-European classical milieu with improvisation, jazz rhythms, and Ellington’s use of harmony makes for a rewarding performance indicative of his innovative and collaborative spirit,” Buennig says.
Illinois native Dr. Jim Buennig is a saxophonist, composer and educator based in Chicago. He has degrees in jazz from the University of Texas at Austin (DMA), the University of Iowa (MA), and Western Illinois University (BM). Along with teaching at Black Hawk College, Buennig has served as a faculty member at Cornell College and as Damani Phillips’ sabbatical replacement at the University of Iowa in Spring 2021. Since 2017, he has written and produced five albums as a leader with significant national and international airtime and is an artist for D’Addario Woodwinds.
“I’m excited to return to my hometown to collaborate with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra in celebration of Duke Ellington, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the centuries of cultural fortitude represented in this piece,” he says. “This is my first time performing Ellington’s final work, and I hope it will not be the last!”
His collaborator, pianist Corey Kendrick, says, “I have loved Ellington’s music for a long time but rarely get a chance to play his larger scale works, so it’s a real thrill to be playing ‘Three Black Kings.’
“It’s always a humbling experience to play Ellington’s piano parts (as he was both the composer and the pianist for the orchestra) but it’s a joy as well, and it’s an honor to play alongside the Quad City Symphony Orchestra,” Kendrick says.
Performances will be Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, IA.