Jazz Inside Out series

Duke’s Small Groups: Nick Rossi’s Jazzopaters play Ellington

Discover Ellington’s hidden gems

Friday, May 24

7:30 p.m.

Campbell Recital Hall

SJW MEMBERS: $12 | Child (17 and under) & Student (present valid student ID card) $5

NON-MEMBERS: $20 | Child (17 and under) & Student (present valid student ID card) $12

Sights & Sounds
About the music and musicians

Join us for an exhilarating evening where jazz history comes alive! Acclaimed guitarist and Ellington aficionado, Nick Rossi, leads his dynamic Jazzopaters on a captivating journey into the heart of Duke Ellington’s electrifying small group repertoire.

Beyond the grandeur of his big band, Duke crafted intimate masterpieces for nimble 7-10 piece ensembles, drawing out the brilliance of his star soloists. Immerse yourself in the captivating sounds of these rarely performed gems, composed between the mid-1930s and mid-1940s, a pivotal era in jazz history.

This is more than just a concert — Nick Rossi will invite you to discuss the fascinating context behind these musical treasures. Explore how Ellington’s artistic vision intertwined with the economic and social forces of the time. Discover how these small groups compared to the work of Swing Era contemporaries and their lasting impact on jazz.

Nick and his Jazzopators — which includes rising young stars such as Nathan Tokunaga, Riley Baker, and James Dunning as well as Bay Area jazz masters like SJW faculty artist Patrick Wolff — will delve into the lives and contributions of the original composers and Ellington’s iconic soloists, placing them within the rich tapestry of Ellingtonia and jazz history. Prepare to be introduced to legendary names like Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Hodges, and Ben Webster, as we uncover the magic they conjured within these smaller ensembles.

This night is for music lovers, history buffs, and anyone curious to discover a hidden facet of Ellington’s genius. Get ready to tap your feet, engage your mind, and be transported to a bygone era where swing reigned supreme.


Nick Rossi, guitar and leader
Patrick Wolff, alto saxophone and director
Nathan Tokunaga, clarinet
Kamrin Ortiz, baritone saxophone
James Dunning, trumpet
Victor Imbo, trombone
Rob Reich, piano
Mikiya Matsuda, bass
Riley Baker, drums

More about Nick Rossi

Guitarist, writer, and historian Nick Rossi has been a mainstay of the Bay Area jazz scene for 30 years. For nearly 20 of those years, he’s focused his curiosity and chops on exploring the jazz styles of the 1920s and ’30s, and performing this music with his own combos. His talents as a writer and deeply engaging educator have been tapped by Acoustic Guitar magazine, Fretboard Journal, as well as a number of record labels specializing in reissues of classic jazz. Visit Nick Rossi on the web: www.nickrossiarts.com