Storyville to release 7 CD Strayhorn compilation October 2014 !
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 his musical contribution to jazz.
Take a look at this promo presented by Storyville Records....
Lady Gaga records 'Lush Life' on new CD with Tony Bennett
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have officially joined forces.
The two music titans recently announced “Cheek to Cheek,” their forthcoming jazz duets CD, will be out September 23rd. The two first recorded a cover of the 1937 showtune “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Bennett’s 2011 album “Duets II.”
Gaga will cover Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” as a solo effort on the CD.
“I love the way she sings,” Bennett said. “The whole world loves her.”
“He’s a legend,” Gaga added. “He’s really changed my life with this record. I’ve been singing jazz since I was 13 years old and Tony was the first person who knew that.”
Listen to Lady Gaga sing Lush Life at the Montreal Jazz Festival in July.
Photo from the official Ella Fitzgerald Facebook page
Ella Fitzgerald Facebook Page Honors 47th Anniversary of Billy Strayhorn's passing.
On May 31st, 2014, the Ella Fitzgerald Facebook page created a wonderful post in memory of Billy Strayhorn. Selected Strayhorn songs were highlighted. Also, a long list of very nice comments were left by visitors to the site. Please go to our media gallery/video section to hear Ella's classic rendention of 'Something to Live For'. Special thanks to the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation for the great work they do and helping to keep the memory of Billy Strayhorn alive.
In 1957, Billy Strayhorn and Ella Fitzgerald worked together on a project teaming her with the Duke Ellington Orchestra called, 'Ella Fitzgerald sings the Duke Ellington Songbook'. Several of the songs were arranged by Strayhorn.
Visit Ella Fitzgerald.com to read more about Ella and her Foundation.
Jazz stars, with Strayhorn on the horizon!
A concert by some of Pittsburgh's jazz stars provided an early kickoff to the celebration of Pittsburgh native Billy Strayhorn's centennial birthday in 2015.
The 10th-annual Jazz on the Hillside was celebrated June 27th, 2014 on the lawn at the Schenley Heights Community Development Multi-Purpose Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The concert featured Al Dowe and Etta Cox, the Roger Barbour Quartet and the Tubby Daniels Quartet. Radio stalwart and Pittsburgh Jazz Society founder Tony Mowod was the host for the evening.
Tickets benefited after-school tutorial, summer-enrichment and track-and-field programs as well as parent-support groups in Pittsburgh's inner city. The Schenley Heights Community Development Partnership has been a mainstay in the Hill district community of Pittsburgh for over 20 years. SHCDP provides a number of programs that enable children to have a safe place to go and to grow.
Foundation News!! The Billy Strayhorn Foundation, Inc. ("BSF") makes its official debut with this summer 2013 newsletter. Click on our link below.
The official poster for the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Jazz Appreciation Month 2014, features the Joseph Holston screen print “Jazz.” Created and printed in 1990 by Holston, the print is his tribute to American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane.
Initiated by the Smithsonian in 2001, Jazz Appreciation Month (or JAM) is intended to draw public attention to the glories of jazz as both an historical and a living treasure. The idea is to encourage musicians, concert halls, schools, colleges, museums, libraries, and public broadcasters to offer special programs on jazz every April.
Holston’s print “Jazz” is one of three of his prints included in the exhibition “Convergence: Jazz, Film, Dance and the Visual Arts” which opened at the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, and is now on view at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, through April 27, 2014.
Kelly Strayhorn shows growth in programming lineup
By Sara Bauknecht/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 10, 2014
This fall, the building that houses the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty will mark its centennial anniversary. For executive director Janera Solomon, it’s not only a time to reflect on the space’s rich history but also on how much the programming it offers has evolved.
“As recently as four years ago people had not heard of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and actually didn’t have Pittsburgh on their radar as a place for hot new works,” she says. “Now when I introduce myself people are not only familiar with the theater, they’re familiar with our programming.”
The 2014-15 season is the sixth for the “KST Presents” series, which curates works by aspiring and established dance, music and theatrical artists from Pittsburgh and beyond while striving to stay relevant to the interests of the East End’s residents. Its next events include a documentary to be screened September 10th about dance legend Carmen de Lavallade.
Attracting this caliber of artists like Ms. de Lavallade these days is a testament to the theater’s growth, Ms. Solomon says.
“It’s really nice to be at a place where we feel a little bit grown up,” she says. “This season really includes some of the things we do best.”
Topping that list is the Kelly Strayhorn’s expanding international programming. Since the “KST Presents” series’ inception, it has presented companies and artists from nearly 20 different countries. Continuing to build the theater’s reputation as a hotbed for budding artists to develop new work through fellowships and residencies is another one of Ms. Solomon’s passions.
But the theater also strives to stay true to its community roots, especially while the identity of East Liberty shifts as new business move into the area.
“It’s important that the neighborhood continues to feel diverse and inclusive and welcoming of lots of different types of people,” Ms. Solomon says. “We want to be sure that our programming is attractive to new East Liberty as well as the old.”
On November 29th at 8pm, the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre will celebrate Billy Strayhorn with a birthday bash that will include a concert and birthday cake. For ticket information call 412-363-3000 or visit kelly-strayhorn.org for info on all upcoming events.
Outbeat: America's First Queer Jazz Festival Announces Two Powerful Tributes To Billy Strayhorn On September 19th, 2014 In Partnership With The Philadelphia Jazz Project
“From Strayhorn to Cecil: Jazz Innovation in America" 3:00PM Panel Discussion @ University of the Arts' Arts Bank
“Lush Life: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn" 8:30PM Exclusive Concert Performance @ Suzanne Roberts Theatre
Duke Ellington might be a more recognizable name than that of Billy Strayhorn, but Strayhorn's influence and genius cannot be discounted. The esteemed pianist, arranger, composer and lyricist was known for writing jazz classic's for Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, with credits on monumental standards such as “Lush Life," “Chelsea Bridge," and “Take the A Train," as well as multiple others. Having met Ellington in 1938, Strayhorn (who was 23 at the time) became one his main musical influences and collaborators - even leading Ellington to state, “Strayhorn does a lot of the work but I get to take the bows." He brought a sense of cohesiveness to Duke Ellington's playing as well as his own style and sound to the band.
However, Strayhorn's acclaim did not come without some struggle. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Strayhorn's mother moved the family to Pittsburgh while dealing with the alcoholic nature of his father. The pianist's mother and grandparents raised him, and they would become his main source of musical inspiration. This eventually led him to begin compositions of his own. Originally, Strayhorn wanted to write classical compositions but soon realized that the prejudices at the time would not allow him to enter a genre primarily dominated by white musicians. He gave up on classical dreams but not soon after joined Duke Ellington for one of the most prolific collaborations in jazz. Strayhorn, over his 29-year-musical career, was not only known for his pioneering works but also for his forward thinking on human rights. Strayhorn was openly gay during a time when race and sexual orientation in America were highly delicate political and social subjects. Strayhorn's experiences and courage laid the groundwork for future LGBT artists in the jazz community to be out and proud of their identity.
“From Strayhorn to Cecil: Jazz Innovation in America" is a noteworthy roundtable discussion designed to delve further into the lasting and remarkable influence that both Billy Strayhorn and Cecil Taylor have had on modern music, particularly throughout America's less tolerant days. The panel will feature David Hajdu (Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn), John Szwed (Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra), Philadelphia pianist and Pew Fellow Orrin Evans, and will be moderated by JazzTimes' John Murph. It will take place on Friday, September 19th at 3:00pm at University of the Arts Bank. Admission will be free for this event.
“Lush Life: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn," produced by the Philadelphia Jazz Project in collaboration with OutBeat organizers, will honor the musical pioneer. Featuring a group of diverse, multi-dimensional musicians, vocalists and poets from the Philadelphia area, the event will embody exactly what Strayhorn stood for throughout his musical career and personal life. The event will include performances from big bands, a cappella groups, solo acts and ensemble groups as they recreate some of the most important compositions known to jazz, in honor of Strayhorn. The arrangements, prepared by bassist and composer Keith DeStefano, will feature not only Strayhorn's brilliant works but also many other original compositions that his work influenced such as pieces by Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. Additional pieces throughout the night will include a piano duet featuring Dena Underwood and Andy Khan, and dueling piano performances; trumpeter Terell Stafford and saxophonist Tim Warfield in a quintet setting; a solo piano performance with Raymond A. King; a trio a cappella poetry suite; and much more. The event will be held on September 19th at 8:30pm at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Tickets are $25 for General Admission and $35 for VIP.
From the Archives...
2007 Talk of the Nation NPR interview with author David Hadju, filmaker Rob Levi and Strayhorn family member Alyce Claerbaut previewing the "Lush Life" documentary. Click the link below.