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BILLY STRAYHORN: CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF A MUSICAL GENIUS

May 2016 marks 49 years since the passing of Billy Strayhorn on May 31st, 1967. Moving forward, the Strayhorn legacy continues to emerge as one of the major forces in the shaping of the Jazz canon and the great Amercian songbook.

In celebration of his many accomplishments and contributions, we ask all to reflect on the vast array of beautiful compositions Strayhorn left with us. May 2016 honors the life of one Mr. Billy Strayhorn.

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.” 

 

Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Award Shines at Temple University


Since 2011, the Billy Strayhorn Foundation has collaborated with Temple University and Director of Jazz Studies Terell Stafford to award the Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship. The award goes to an outstanding student who displays a strong passion for playing, studying and perpetuating jazz.

Congratulations to the 2016 award recipient, Mr. Christian Lewis. Thanks to Temple University and its Boyer School of Music and Dance for their enthusiastic support of jazz and students who exemplify the creative genius of the great composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn.


*Pictured above left to right: Strayhorn nephew and award presenter Galen Demus. 2011 award recipient Elijah Thomas. 2016 recipient Christian Lewis. 2015 award recipient Daud El-Bakara.

  

 

  


 

 

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



 

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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