This year, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is honoring their namesakes, 20th century entertainment legends, Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn for the first time, together at their annual benefit concert Suite Life set for Saturday, November 28th, at 7:00pm. The celebration also honors the November 29th birthday of Billy Strayhorn.

This virtual concert, filmed on the Kelly Strayhorn stage, and hosted by KST’s Deputy Director Orlana Darkins Drewery, will highlight music composed by Strayhorn, including big hits and rarely heard gems, along with the toe-tapping music performed and made famous by Kelly! The musical program will be arranged, directed, and performed by Poogie Bell (drums) alongside talented musicians and singers; Abby Gross (sax), Winston Bell (sax), Antonio Croes (keys), Tony DePaolis (bass), Kenny Stockard (vocalist), and Anqwenique Wingfield (vocalist).

 

In addition, KST is offering a rare treat! Join them at 6:00pm for a VIP livepre-show conversation on Zoom led by KDKA-TV’s Lynne Hayes Freeland, and featuring Strayhorn biographer David Hajdu, and Gene Kelly’s wife and official biographer Patricia Ward Kelly. You don’t want to miss this virtual opportunity to celebrate international acclaimed jazz musician Billy Strayhorn and international film star, dancer and choreographer Gene Kelly, together – two legendary Pittsburghers that changed the world, and are the namesake for this historic Pittsburgh theater!

To Purchase Tickets  For This Exciting Event, Go To: https://kelly-strayhorn.org/suitelife/

On November 13th and November 14th, DanceVision2020 will present “The Music of Black Voices”, celebrating the history of black artist in music. This will be done through both music and dance. A collaboration between Ballet Chicago and Chicago’s Merit School of Music,  the performance includes these talented young artists doing a rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom”.

This webinar event can be viewed either night at 7pm by going to dancevision2020.app.rsvpify.com. Find out more about these wonderful youth involved organizations at: www.balletchicago.org and meritmusic.org.

 

“Day Dream” is a radio play inspired by the life of jazz artist and composer Billy Strayhorn. It contrasts Billy’s journey, looking back on his life during a radio interview, with the journey of Andre, an aspiring jazz vocalist struggling to find his voice in today’s world. Released in 8 episodes starting October 11th, “Day Dream” is set in two time periods: Billy in 1965, and Andre in Modern Day. 

“Day Dream” was written by Barry Moton, a Jazz Vocalist living in Washington, DC. His previous credits include singing as the featured vocalist at the Al Sears Jazz Festival in Macomb, IL, where he was also awarded Outstanding Jazz Vocalist, and at the Elmhurst Jazz Festival. He has shared the stage with legendary artists like Cyrus Chestnut, Vanessa Rubin, Roy Hargove, and Jessica Boykin-Settles.

For more information on tuning in, go to https://www.daydreamseries.com or visit the Facebook page for Barry Moton.

From the Archives: ‘Lush Life’, Celebrating the Life of Billy Strayhorn, was recorded in 2016 as a tribute to Billy Strayhorn’s 100 year centennial. Highlights include the musical direction for the show from pianist Dan Nimmer, contributions from renowned vocalist and  brilliant pianist himself Johnny O’Neal, swinging solos from Wynton Marsalis, and  the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at the top of their musical game.

Please enjoy this once in a lifetime event celebrating the musical genius of Billy Strayhorn.

 

Full Concert: Lush Life: Celebrating Billy Strayhorn – JLCO with Wynton Marsalis

 

“My grandmother played the piano, and I used to toddle over there and pick out little things that sounded good to me.”
— BILLY STRAYHORN

A detailed look at the story of the great 20th century classical and jazz pianist and composer. Best known for his long-time collaboration with Duke Ellington, Strayhorn composed Take the A Train, Lush Life, Something to Live For, and A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

CURATED AND ARRANGED BY ANDREW DOWNING

Featuring Larry Beckwith, Alexa Belgrave,
Leighton Harrell, Drew Jurecka, Marion Newman,
Patricia O’Callaghan, Alex Samaras, Suba Sankaran and more.

For the 20-21 season, Confluence Concerts look forward to this season with enthusiasm and curiosity, digging deeply into the lives and music of a broad range of composers, including Billy Strayhorn.  From jazz to traditional South Asian music, opera to pop, across centuries and cultures, sounds and ideas merge into a season of surprise, delight, and wonder. For more information, check out the website below:

info@confluenceconcerts.ca

On July 23rd, Jazz Education Coordinator Galen Demus gave a presentation titled Billy Strayhorn: the Man and His Music, to the virtual camp participants at the Litchfiueld Jazz Camp in Connecticut. The one hour power point presentation gave the camp participants a glimpse into the courageous life and incredible artistic output of Billy Strayhorn. Thanks to camp founder Vita Muir, music director Don Braden, and director of operations Albert Rivera for the collaboration with the Billy Strayhorn Foundation to make this presentation possible in spite of Covid-19 challenges.

In addition to the Strayhorn presentation, the Litchfield Jazz Camp hosted a virtual tribute concert that evening (a solo piano performance) dedicated to Billy Strayhorn by the super talented Mr. Orrin Evans.  

14 year old Tianna Mickens first studied piano and ballet with American Ballet Theatre for five years. She found her love for drums in fourth grade when she joined band at school. She has been playing drums for five years. She is part of the school band and the jazz band. Tianna also performed with the New Jersey Youth Orchestra this past year. She plans on continuing with band and jazz band in High School and College.

Tianna is a straight A student, and the family attributes her academic excellence to the music in her life. She was the recipient of 3 awards at school this year. Tianna was chosen as “Student of the Season” for fall 2019. She received an Achievement Award for Performing Arts Band, and the President’s Education Award Program for Outstanding Academic Excellence.

We are proud to add Tiannna as part of the ever growing list of young musicians/scholars representing the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn through our Jazz Education Scholarship Award.

Find out more about the great work being done at the Litchfield Jazz Camp: go to litchfieldjazzcamp.com

Led by world renowned trumpeter and educator Terell Stafford, the Temple University Jazz Band carries with it a stellar reputation for musicianship and jazz studies.

This year, we congratulate our 2020 Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award recipient, Mr. Patrick Hill. Patrick plays alto saxophone and completed his undergrad at another prestigious jazz music institution, the University of North Texas. Patrick, who is a resident of Rowlett, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), is in the first year of getting his Masters in Jazz Studies at the Boyer College of Music and Dance.

Join us in congratulating Patrick on being selected for this award and joining our growing list of young and talented musicians representing the Strayhorn musical legacy.

 

The Silkroad Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma is honored to share an exclusive live recording of Billy Strayhorn’s iconic jazz standard Take the “A” Train as part of WhyHunger’s SongAid campaign. Leveraging the power of music, SongAid unites musicians and technology companies to bring awareness to complex economic, social, and environmental issues surrounding equitable access to nutritious food, and helps extend WhyHunger’s support for communities in need. Each time you listen to the SongAid recording, the streaming proceeds will go to WhyHunger’s Rapid Response Fund.

“Silkroad is thrilled to be included in the SongAid campaign. Through the simple act of sharing music, we are supporting frontline workers, food pantries, small-scale farmers, and food chain workers — truly culture in action. Please join us by listening along, and help us to sustain this vital work,” says Yo-Yo Ma, Silkroad Founder.

At a time when New York has been brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, Take the “A” Train celebrates the familiar sounds of NYC’s subway system that connects its vibrant neighborhoods. Silkroad’s recording is featured on the very first SongAid playlist, along with Darryl “DMC” McDaniels & The HellRaisers’ I Was Born, Tom Morello’s Save the Hammer for the Man, and Cindy Blackman Santana & Carlos Santana’s Imagine. Thanks to The Orchard, these playlists will be available on Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and Apple Music. 

This performance of Take the “A” Train, arranged by Silkroad Co-Artistic Director Shane Shanahan and commissioned by Reservoir Media, was performed live at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, presented by CalPerformances on August 18, 2016, as part of the Silkroad Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma’s summer festivals tour. 
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Great music and great movies can still be made — even if you’re sheltered in place. Paul Glenshaw offers that chance with his YouTube channel “The Seven Tones Project.” Paul is an artist, film maker, author and educator with more than 25 years experience working across disciplines in the arts, history and sciences. He hopes to provide artists a creative outlet to escape the confines of Covid 19 quarantine.

“Anybody who needs a live audience for their work to be fulfilled, doesn’t have it,” Glenshaw said. “Let’s use what we’ve got. Here we are now. Musicians can still record at home. Filmmakers can make films at home, even if you’re just using your phone. So that’s the idea. Let’s see what beautiful things we can make with the tools that we have at hand.”

“We’re limiting the musicians to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn songs, which is to say they have at their disposal an incredibly rich and broad repertoire” Glenshaw said. Beyond the Ellington and Strayhorn stipulation, are there any technical requirements?

“You can record with whatever you have at home, even if it’s just solo bass or just accompanying yourself,” Glenshaw said. Anyone can participate, no matter your experience level.

“It’s an open call,” Glenshaw said. “Student filmmakers, student musicians, professionals. It’s really open. We want to give you something that is fun, something that is a creative outlet and something that might even be a bit of a challenge, but a fun challenge.” What can audiences take away from watching the videos?

“We can’t go to the movie theater [or] the art gallery … to have that intimate experience where you really feel like you’re communicating one-on-one with an artist,” Glenshaw said. “These small films, these little pieces of poetry do that in a way that a huge, multi-hour binge can’t. There’s an intimacy where the artist is expressing themselves directly to you.”

Along the way, he hopes folks will rediscover the music of Ellington and Strayhorn.