Composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn lived his life as an openly gay man during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, an oppressive and homophobic era. ‘Halfway To Dawn’, a music and dance performance, recognizes the life of Strayhorn, who mostly shied away from the jazz spotlight and remains an under appreciated and acknowledged composer.

‘Halfway To Dawn’ will world premiere in Los Angeles from October 4th to the 7th at the REDCAT theatre. The tour will then travel the country and conclude in Minneapolis April 13th, 2019. Tickets are $12-$30.

Written, directed and choreographed by David Rousseve, the production combines dance and video imagery. Text describing Strayhorn’s life and historical footage give the production context while projected abstract video art expresses the emotional layers of Strayhorn’s journey.

The Billy Strayhorn Foundation (BSF) has given out $3,000 so far in 2018 to assist students and institutions with tuition, summer camp attendance and jazz studies program assistance. The Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award has assisted over 20 young musicians in the past 10 years and continues to grow.

Congratulations to both our individual and school music program recipients!

**Booker T. Washington School for the Visual and Performing Arts- Dallas, Texas
**Micah Graves (piano)- Boyer College of Music and Dance- Temple University
**Geraldo Marshall (trumpet)-Eastman School of Music- University of Rochester
**Bailey Johnstone (bass)- Nashville Jazz Workshop
**Ben Rubie (violin)- Litchfield Jazz Camp- Connecticut
**Andres Aybar (bass)-Litchfield Jazz Camp- Connecticut

“Take the ‘A’ Train” remix part of best selling contemporary jazz album in the summer of 2018.
Grammy nominated saxophonist Dave Koz, along with some of today’s best contemporary jazz artist, have come out with a stunning set of 11 timeless tunes reimagined by Koz and alto saxophonist Gerald Albright, tenor saxophonist Richard Elliot, trumpeter Rick Braun and trombonist Aubrey Logan.
Narrowed down from an original list that was in the hundreds, ‘A’-Train ended up being one of the final 11 songs. It is given a contemporary arrangement, including being merged with the beat of a song by hip hop icon Jay Z (Roc Boys). The mix of a jazz classic and a modern music hit is pulled off seamlessly.
Check out the song (and the album) on all streaming services and YouTube.

The 2018 Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival held June 15th thru June 17th celebrates cultures of the world and to share a common bond for music that makes us one. This year’s lineup included jazz stalwarts Marcus Miller, Gregory Porter, Kenny Garrett and Teri Lyne Carrington.
Among those providing funding for the festival, Strayhorn family members Dr. Greg and Thelma Morris provided Encore Member ($1,000+) support on behalf of Billy Strayhorn and Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc.

Northrop announces its 2018-19 Dance Season featuring 10 remarkable dance companies, including David Rousseve/ Reality, the American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Northrop is a center of discovery and transformation that connects the University of Minnesota and communities beyond by celebrating innovation in arts, performance and academics.

Written, choreographed and directed by David Roussève and performed by his diverse nine-member company REALITY, Halfway to Dawn is a vibrant multimedia dance/theater work based on the life of Billy Strayhorn, collaborator and arranger for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. While composing some of the most gorgeous American music of this century, Strayhorn was one of the few jazz artists to be openly homosexual in postwar Harlem. The production is the last of the Northrop stage performances of the season on April 13th, 2019. The Northrup Center is located at 84 Church Street, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Choreographer/writer/director/filmmaker David Rousseve has written, directed and choreographed 13 full evening works for David Rousseve/REALITY.

Founded in 1988, David Rousseve/REALITY creates expressionistic dance/theatre works that combine the accessibility, grit and passion of African American traditional and pop cultures with the challenging compositional structures of avant-garde dance and theatre to explore socially-charged, immensely relevant, and often spiritual themes.

Paris, Washington, D.C. April 9, 2018 —The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock today announced the program for the 2018 edition of International Jazz Day, with events in Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation), this year’s Global Host City, and over 190 countries around the world.

 

A series of educational and outreach programs will take place in the Global Host City, where the day will culminate in an extraordinary all-star concert at the historic Mariinsky Theatre, an event which will be streamed live worldwide. Partners on the seven continents will celebrate jazz as a universal language of peace on International Jazz Day, celebrated every year on April 30th.

 

Iconic jazz pianist Herbie Hancock (USA) and renowned saxophonist Igor Butman (Russia) will serve as artistic co-directors of the all-star concert and John Beasley (USA) will serve as the evening’s musical director.

The 2018 Jazz Appreciation Month Poster is the second in a special three-year series featuring the center section of LeRoy Neiman’s Big Band, a large-scale painting that hangs on the first floor of the National Museum of American History. The JAM Posters from 2017 and 2019 feature the left and right side of the painting respectively, so that when all three are hung next to each other, the iconic painting can be recreated! Big Band is a gift of the LeRoy Neiman Foundation.

This year, JAM invites all jazz fans and appreciators to look beyond the music to the dynamic ways jazz has played a transformative role in social justice, musicians’ rights, and equality. The featured JAM artist this year is producer Norman Granz. Granz devoted his life to civil rights and equality – within the music industry and beyond. Through numerous record labels and his iconic touring show, Jazz at the Philharmonic, he helped propel many jazz musicians to greatness. Fittingly, all the musicians featured in this section of the JAM poster had careers that overlapped or were influenced by Norman Granz. They are: Charles Mingus, Benny Goodman, Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.

We celebrate some of the ladies of Jazz who musically touched Billy Strayhorn. We Salute:

Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Marian McPartland, Hazel Scott, Ivie Anderson, Kay Davis, Joya Sherrill and Carmen McRae, just to name a few.

The musical tells the captivating story of musical genius Billy Strayhorn as he navigates a world rife with homophobia and racism: We see him develop relationships with jazz legends Duke Ellington and Lena Horne as well as his romantic partner for several years, Aaron Bridgers. Nominated for 8 awards, WHEN JAZZ HAD THE BLUES won in 3 categories: Best Musical Direction, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Set Design. Its initial production was at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles.

The 27th annual theatre awards ceremony was held February 26th at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The mission of the NAACP Theatre Awards is to entertain, educate and inspire as well as create diversity in the arts and entertainment industry.

 

SMOKETOWN;
The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance, by Mark Whitaker, profiles a number of notable black figures from Pittsburgh and explores the intersection of their lives from the 1920s to the 1950s. Each personality, in separate chapters, provides an entree into a major “Smoketown” social, political or cultural development, be it sports, entertainment, the media or the arts.  You can read an excerpt below, highlighting the relationship of Pittsburgh residents Billy Strayhorn and Lena Horne.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/mysteries-of-pittsburgh-where-lena-horne-and-billy-strayhorns-chaste-musical-love-affair-began