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LUSH LIFE: CELEBRATING BILLY STRAYHORN

Jazz at Lincoln Center concluded its 2015-2016 season by celebrating the centenary birth year of American music icon Billy Strayhorn. The June 10th and June 11th concerts featured the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and guest vocalist and pianist Johnny O'Neal.

Both shows were a huge hit. Adding to the festivities, a large contingent of Strayhorn family members made the NYC trip to enjoy this wonderful tribute.

*Strayhorn family members pictured above with Wynton Marsalis (center) are: Rosa Strayhorn, Kenny Strayhorn, John Strayhorn, Alyce Claerbaut, Michele Strayhorn and Lisa Tempro.

Strayhorn poster a hit in Phoenix

A poster commissioned by Strayhorn nephew Dr. Gregory Morris and his wife Thelma continues to make a great visual presentation celebrating the life and contribution of Billy Strayhorn to music and the arts. The free standing display resides in the Helen K. Mason Theatre in Phoenix as part of the Strayhorn Centennial celebration. The theatre presented the critically aclaimed play "Conviction" in February 2015, a one man show where a convict explores the life of Strayhorn and his music to come to terms with his own existence. The play was performed by the Black Theatre Troupe.

The Black Theatre Troupe purpose and mission is to educate, enlighten and entertain a diverse, multi-cultural audience by using local, regional and national talent with the emphasis on providing exposure to black culture and ideology.

You can visit the Helen K. Mason Theatre at 1333 East Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

*Pictured above: Strayhorn nephew Dr. Gregory Morris.

 

New York Celebrates Billy Strayhorn’s Centennial With Special ‘A Train’ Ride

All aboard the A Train! Sunday November 29th, 2015, Jazz at Lincoln Center celebrated the centennial of jazz great Billy Strayhorn with a series of performances — including a surprise pop-up concert on the subway that inspired Strayhorn’s most famous composition, “Take the A Train.”

The MTA unearthed an era-appropriate subway train to run on the A line for the occasion. The train’s passengers were serenaded by the Donald Malloy Quartet and the Evan Sherman Entourage playing a medley of Strayhorn compositions, including "Take the A Train". 

“We celebrate the centennial of Mr. Strayhorn by saluting one of the most meaningful compositions in the jazz canon, as we also salute our public transit system,” Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said in a statement.

The celebration is a collaboration between Jazz at Lincoln Center, MTA Music and the New York Transit Museum. Mr. Marsalis played “Take the A Train” on the subway in 1999 during the centennial of Duke Ellington, Strayhorn’s frequent collaborator.

Concerts celebrating Strayhorn followed on Sunday evening at 7:30 and 9:30pm at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, presented an official proclamation November 29th as “Billy Strayhorn Day.” 

 

NJW Summer Jazz Camp

2016 Nashville Jazz Workshop Summer Camp a Success !

The Nashville Jazz Workshop Summer Jazz Camp was an amazing experience for all involved. 60 young musicians and over 20 faculty and staff flooded into Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music for a week of intense learning and music making. Camp Director Evan Cobb, vocal coordinator Liz Johnson Schafer and the entire faculty handled the mix of experienced and new students to jazz deftly with ensembles, theory, improvisation, listening and composition classes that challenged them to rise to new heights.

This year, the Billy Strayhorn Foundation collaborated with NJW founders Lori Mechem and Roger Spencer to award the Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship to a deserving student. The 2016 recipient was Mark Payne from Nashville, Tennessee. Mark plays piano, and all indications are that he has a bright jazz future ahead !!.

Congrats to all the participating students and the great work being done by all who are a part of the NJW !!

  

 

112503

LUSH LIFE BIOGRAPHY CELEBRATES 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

David Hajdu's ground breaking biography of Billy Strayhorn celebrates 20 years since its July 1996 release. The book served as a catalyst towards a revival of interest in Billy Strayhorn's musical legacy and his life from the perspective of many who interacted with him in both his personal and professional orbits over his 51 year life span.

Conducting more than 3,000 hours of conversations and interviews over 11 years, as well as an exhaustive study of Strayhorn's personal papers, music and artifacts, Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn is acknowledged as a jazz classic.

Some of the honors the book has received include:

*Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

*Received the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award.

*Named A Book to Remember by the New York Public.

*Ranked by the New York Times as one of the 100 best non fiction books of all time.

Still available in print, the great Lena Horne said this about the book;

"Lush Life is a book as beautiful and intelligent as its subject. David Hajdu has bought all my dear memories of Billy Strayhorn to life".

Since 2015, David Hajdu has been the music critic for the NATION magazine. A professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, his latest book, 'Love for Sale: Pop Music in America' will be available October, 2016.  

  


 

 

Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life

The New Strayhorn book is out !!


Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life, is a stunning collection of essays, photographs, and ephemera celebrating Billy Strayhorn, one of the most significant yet under appreciated contributors to 20th century American music. Released in commemoration of Strayhorn's Centennial, this luxurious coffee table book offers intimate details of the composers life from musicians, scholars, and Strayhorn's closest relatives. Perhaps best known for his 28 year collaborative role as Duke Ellingtons "writing and arranging companion", Strayhorn has emerged in recent years as an even more meritorious force in shaping the jazz canon. "Strayhorn" delves into every stage of Billy's career, beginning with his abusive upbringing and early success to later partnerships with Lena Horne and the Copasetics. Rich with insights, the book covers topics such as his music, family, intellectual pursuits, involvement with civil rights and open homosexuality. Featuring contributions from Strayhorn biographer David Hadju, film director Robert Levi, music scholar Walter van de Leur, as well as lush photography and rare memorabilia like hand written scores, this is a book to be treasured by jazz aficionados and music lovers everywhere. Enthralling and visually captivating, "Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life" lauds a beloved jazz legend and captures a prodigious legacy that will influence generations to come.

Click your choice of these online suppliers to order your copy of "Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life" NOW!!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books a Million

Indie Bound

Agate Publishing

 

 


Honoring our Billy Strayhorn 2015 Centennial Honorary Committee for a fantastic centennial year!

Bringing together luminaries from entertainment, education and performing arts, the Billy Strayhorn 2015 Centennial Honorary Committee brought together an impressive list of individuals with a wide array of accomplishments expanding beyond jazz.

The Honorary Chair for the committee was (in memorium), jazz legend Clark Terry. The centennial honorary committee members all shared a vision to contribute to 2015 being a year of celebrating the life and music of the man affectionately known as 'Swee Pea'. To say the least, that vision was accomplished.

To all Honorary Committee Members, THANK YOU for your time and talent to perpetuate the continuing growing legacy of Billy Strayhorn.

The 2015 centennial vision was spearheaded by the Billy Strayhorn Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to celebrate the music and life of composer, arranger, pianist Billy Strayhorn and to develop an appreciation of his music among all people. The Billy Strayhorn Foundation supports this purpose through live music performance, lectures, and symposia.  

The Strayhorn Centennial Honorary Committee, a project of the Billy Strayhorn Foundation, worked with community groups, artists, and performing arts organizations interested in creating events throughout the centennial year of 2015 which explored and expanded the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn.

Our 2015 Honorary Committee members were;  

Clark Terry, Chair (In Memorium),  National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, educator and highly acclaimed trumpet player and member the great bands of Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Ann Hampton Callaway, Grammy nominated jazz vocalist

Tammy McCann, jazz vocalist, recording artist, music teacher/coach

Mark George, President/CEO Music Institute of Chicago

David Hajdu, award winning Strayhorn biographer

Walter van de Leur, Pd.D., award winning Strayhorn biographer/musicologist

Rob Levi, Emmy/Peabody winning Strayhorn filmmaker/documentarian

John Clayton, Grammy winning co-founder of the Clayton/Hamilton Big Band

Donald Harrison, award winning jazz saxophone player and composer

Ramsey Lewis, Grammy winning jazz pianist and recording artist

Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player and Chair of Jazz Studies- Temple University

Kevin Mahogany, acclaimed jazz vocalist and recording artist

R. Susan Motely, music promoter

Carol Adams, Former President/CEO DuSable Museum of African American History

Herb Jordan, music publisher/writer

Charles McPherson, acclaimed jazz alto saxophone player, recording artist and composer

The Duke Ellington Society of Washington D. C.

Allan Harris, acclaimed jazz vocalist and composer

Alex Webb, MA, Music Department Buckinghamshire New University, United Kingdom

The Duke Ellington Society of Toronto, Canada (TDES 40)

The Duke Ellington Society of the United Kingdom (DESUK)

Vernard Gray, producer, Be Mo Jazz/East River Jazz Project, Washington D.C-Baltimore

Filarmonica Laudamo Messina. Messina, Sicily

Bill Dobbins, Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media. Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Robin Bell-Stevens, Executive Director and CEO, Jazzmobile Inc.

Randy Weston, Jazz Pianist and Composer



History made in July: The Newport Jazz Festival. Remembering 1956.

60 years ago, one of the great live jazz performances of all time happened in Newport, Rhode Island. Jazz seemed to be moving from the mainstream of American musical popularity, being replaced by the emerging generation turning to rock and roll. The idea behind the Newport festival, as expressed by its founder George Wein, was to make live jazz appealing again to a generation that didn't go to nightclubs anymore and could hear jazz in a family, picnic type atmosphere. 1956 marked the 3rd year of festivals existence.

Percieved as maybe being past their prime, the Ellington Orchestra was booked to play the 3 day festival that included Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Dave Bruebeck, Sarah Vaughn and the Modern Jazz Quartet. As it turned out, the Ellington Orchestra set was the events most celebrated performance. One of the pieces performed was put together by Ellington and Strayhorn specifically for the show, "The Newport Jazz Festival Suite". The show stopping solo performance from tenor saxaphonist Paul Gonsalves on Ellington's "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" helped to immortalize the festival for all time.

This all culminated in the release that fall of '56 with "Ellington at Newport", which became one of Columbia Records best selling albums.  

 

Billy Strayhorn honored with Legacy Project Walk of Fame Plaque

The Legacy Project, the world's only Outdoor LGBT museum walk, hdld an outdoor ceremony celebrating the induction of bronze memorials commemorating Leonard Bernstein, Josephine Baker, Rudolf Nureyev and Billy Strayhorn. Chicago's Award-Winning "Legacy Walk" museum streetscape honors the month of October — "LGBT History Month" — and National Coming-Out Day. The event took place Saturday, October 10th, at 3245 North Halsted Avenue in Chicago. 

"The Legacy Walk is the world's only outdoor LGBT museum walk. It is dedicated to raising awareness of LGBT contributions to world history and culture as a means to counter the ignorance which fuels anti-gay bullying. "We are delighted to add these five remarkable plaques to those for Jane Addams, Byard Rustin, Alan Turing and so many others… an extremely moving tribute to an aspect of shared human history that most people aren't aware exists," said Legacy Project Executive Director Victor Salvo. "We hope it will lead to conversations about the importance of inclusiveness, especially for LGBTQ youth who are most often forced to grow up without ever learning anything positive about historically significant people like themselves.

 

 


This superb box set celebrating the work of William Thomas Strayhorn echoes the basic paradox of this extraordinary jazz musician’s life and career.

The richness and diversity of the music it contains will delight the most obsessive Strayhorn aficionado; at the same time it offers a thrilling introduction to the man many know only as someone who once played in Duke Ellington’s band and wrote “Take The “A” Train.

The 7 CDs contain material presenting 62 of Strayhorn’s compositions, not only focusing on his work outside of the Ellington orchestra, but also presenting him in Duke’s company.

Billy Strayhorn, the man whose musical abilities could have made him a star in his own right, labored in the shadow of a world-famous benefactor. This collection of his recordings puts him firmly in the spotlight for once, revealing beyond doubt the true scale of the debt owed to him by Duke Ellington in particular and jazz in general.


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