Duke Ellington makes me wish I were an old man. An emblematic figure of Cotton Club-era Harlem, we all know and love Duke and his orchestra for a string of swinging classics such as "In a Mellotone," "Sepia Panorama," "Concerto for Cootie," and Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train." Yet as the big bands waned in the 1940s and 1950s, Ellington continued to create vital new work until his death in 1974. Ellington and his band toured and recorded relentlessly, so any list of Duke's later must-hear music is sure to be incomplete. In my view, these marvels of old age include "Tymperturbably Blue" (from the album Jazz Party), the glowering yet groovy dissonance of "Tourist Point of View" (from The Far East Suite), and the music from his three "Sacred Concerts."

Writing in his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, Duke emphasized that his Sacred Concerts "are not the traditional mass jazzed up." Indeed, all three of his Sacred Concerts fuse jazz, gospel, the blues, recitative, and dance. Duke wrote, "Every man prays in his own language and there is no language that God does not understand."

For this 14th annual concert, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra has compiled music from all three Sacred Concerts. Dedicated to preserving big band jazz, the SRJO is stocked with topnotch veterans, including drummer Clarence Acox, saxophonists Don Lanphere and Bill Ramsay, and trumpeter Floyd Standifer. Augmenting the ensemble are guest vocalists Dee Daniels and Woody Woodhouse, as well as the Northwest Connections Choir and tap dancer Tim Hickey, who dances the "David Danced Before the Lord" section. This should be a sacred yet swinging affair. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra performs Sat Dec 21 (University Christian Church, 4731 15th Ave NE, 547-6763) at 7:30 pm, $17-$23.chris@delaurenti.net

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