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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) directed by Tommy Smith proudly presents The Jazz Genius of Billy Strayhorn

(Jazz in Scotland - Press release.)
2015 marks the twentieth birthday of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the stars are already in alignment for a very special year of celebrations, beginning with our February concerts and the marvellous music of the remarkable Billy Strayhorn.
Strayhorn was born in 1915 and his name is synonymous with Duke Ellington’s finest work. The hugely prolific Strayhorn composed and arranged literally hundreds of pieces for Duke and wrote many of Ellington’s greatest hits, often un-credited for his efforts.
In the 1990’s, jazz historian Walter van de Leur uncovered dozens of previously unknown compositions by Strayhorn. These captivating pieces sparkle with Billy Strayhorn’s musical ingenuity and his obvious penchant for a brightly gregarious melody. Now those lost Strayhorn tunes are in their rightful place as a restored chapter in the jazz repertoire.
In 2003, the SNJO directed by Van de Leur, brought Strayhorn’s colourful melodies
brilliantly to life. Critics at the time concurred: “Strayhorn’s adventurous harmonies… and musical textures were beautifully rendered”, said The Scotsman, while The Herald
pronounced that these shows were, “further endorsement of the orchestra's adaptability and readiness for, it seems, any challenge.” Now, the SNJO offers a more rounded portrait of Billy Strayhorn in concerts laced with Ellington era hits and sensitive Strayhorn originals.
Join the SNJO and Take the A Train down to Chelsea Bridge, where Billy Strayhorn’s
humanity and optimism are further revealed in numbers like Remember and Jo.
Strayhorn’s “Midas touch” can also be heard on Ellington’s controversial jazz treatments of the classics in Edvard Grieg’s Anitra’s Dance and Morning Mood from Peer Gynt. However, Orson and Theme from Anatomy of a Murder are strong evidence of Strayhorn’s pre-existing and barely suppressed classical ambitions. The SNJO also revisits Rhapsody in Blue, this time in an elegant arrangement by Strayhorn that condenses Gershwin’s jazz masterpiece into four minutes and forty-seven seconds of shimmering jazz gold.
The Jazz Genius of Billy Strayhorn is the story of warm, wonderful music created to spread happiness. In the hands of the SNJO it’s a sound that makes you feel a bit more optimistic about the world, and a reminder that it would have been a poorer place without the influential contribution and timeless music of Billy Strayhorn.
Friday 20th February 2015 at 19:30 Queens Hall Edinburgh, Scotland 0131 668 2019
Saturday 21st February 2015 at 19:30 Buccleuch Centre Langholm, Scotland 01387 381 196
Sunday 22nd February 2015 at 19:30 Royal Conservatoire Glasgow, Scotland 0141 332 5057

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