Mercedes Ellington is keeping her grandfather’s iconic sound alive.
The uptown eatery named for iconic composer and bandleader Duke Ellington will finally be the home to his music on Sunday.
Ellington is bringing her curatorial expertise — and bloodline — to the restaurant — at 2745 Broadway, between 105th and 106th Sts. — for a special evening performance.
The Cotton Club fixture known as a pivotal figure in jazz music, who gave the world classics such as “Take The A Train,” “In A Sentimental Mood” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing,” will be celebrated by the first of his grandchildren, alongside piano virtuoso Danny Mixon and vocalist Antoinette Montague.
“We want to present something unusual in the combination of things that people would not ordinarily get while they are having their food,” Ellington, 73, told The Daily News. “It’s like an all in one experience [where] I’m going to also be telling some stories about my experience with the band and with shows, especially ‘Sophisticated Ladies’ on Broadway, and some of the others… So it’s going to be a bit educational as well.”
An accomplished choreographer, tap dancer and producer in her own right, Ellington said she is happy to bring her grandfather’s legacy to the venue, which was the second home of the legendary Birdland jazz club during the 1980s.
While the family has no ownership rights to the spot — which was previously Boulevard Seafood — Ellington said she’s proud to be partnering with restaurateur Glenda Sansone to keep the name alive.
“It’s important for people to remember where we have come from and how far we traveled,” the Juilliard School alum said. “Because there’s still stuff going on, you know, and some very insidious things you can hardly even feel or see it, but it’s still an undercurrent… So it’s very good to be aware and to teach the young people that a series of experiences by other people paved the way so that there could be these freedoms that we’re enjoying now.”
Ellington on Broadway, or The Ellington, opened on Sept. 21. Sansone ran the first iteration of the restaurant on Amsterdam Ave. in 2013 and moved it to its current location when a bigger space became available.
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The eatery is just steps away from Duke Ellington Blvd, a section of 106th St. that runs from Riverside Drive (where he owned two townhouses) to Central Park that was renamed for the jazz great in 1977.
“I’ve been fascinated with jazz music and through Ellington on Broadway, we’ve had the opportunity to nurture and also collaborate with jazz musicians and also up-and-coming musicians every Sunday night,” Sansone told The News.
Sansone said she works very closely with The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, a local nonprofit that calls Mercedes Ellington its CEO and artistic director.
“It’s a great honor to be able to work with Mercedes, her organization and her family, as well as to have the opportunity to educate a new generation of jazz enthusiasts about the legacy of her grandfather and other legendary musicians and entertainers,” she added.
For Sunday’s event from 6-9 p.m., Sansone designed a special beverage called the Duke’s Wish — made with dry vermouth, Aperol, macerated raspberries, rose and soda.
“The beverage is in part named after one of Ellington’s songs, “Best Wishes,” and also inspired by Duke Ellington’s legendary innovation, effortless eloquence and magnetic charisma,” she shared.