Jazz On The Move: The Life and Music of Billy Strayhorn

On Sunday, April 26 at 3pm, the Nashville Jazz Workshop and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month with the next installment in the popular Jazz on the Move series. This month's program is a lecture/performance on The Life and Music of Billy Strayhorn, presented by vocalist Kevin Whalum and the NJW All-Stars, featuring George Tidwell (trumpet), Denis Solee (sax), Roland Barber (trombone), Lori Mechem (piano), Roger Spencer (bass), and Chester Thompson (drums), and an original script on the life of Strayhorn, written by Don O. Henry.

Each installment of Jazz on the Move features a lecture and performance highlighting a major figure or period in jazz history. Presented by Nashville’s top jazz artist/educators, the series offers audiences world class music as well as an opportunity to learn more about jazz. 

On Billy Strayhorn:

"....Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brainwaves in his head, and his in mine."  - Duke Ellington

"That's all I did - that's all I ever did - try to do what Billy Strayhorn did."  - Gil Evans

Few artists have influenced generations of those to come like composer, arranger, lyricist, and pianist Billy Strayhorn. Born 100 years ago this year, in 1915, William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn indeed remains one of the most influential figures in American music. The composer of "Take the A Train," the theme song of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Strayhorn joined Ellington's band in 1939, at the age of twenty four.

Billy Strayhorn Life Magazine    

Some of Strayhorn's other compositions are: "Chelsea Bridge," "Day Dream," "Johnny Come Lately," "Rain Check," "Clementine," and Ellington's signatory, "Lotus Blossom". Some of the suites on which he collaborated with Ellington are: "Deep South Suite," 1947; the "Shakespearean Suite" or "Such Sweet Thunder," 1957; an arrangement of the "Nutcracker Suite," 1960; and the "Peer Gynt Suite," 1962. He and Ellington composed the "Queen's Suite" and gave the only pressing to Queen Elizabeth of England. Two of their suites, "Jump for Joy," 1950 and "My People," 1963 had as their themes the struggles and triumphs of blacks in the United States. Both included a narrative and choreography. The latter Strayhorn conducted at the Negro Exposition in Chicago in 1963. Another suite similar to these two was "A Drum Is a Woman." The "Far East Suite" was written after the band's tour of the East which was sponsored by the State Department. (source: www.billystrayhorn.com)

Kevin Whalum    


The younger brother of noted jazz saxman Kirk Whalum, Kevin Whalum grew up in Memphis in the shadow of Olivet Baptist Church, where his father, the Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum, served as pastor.  The church, known as a magnet for great singers and musicians, became a centerpiece of Kevin's life as a youngster, creating both a religious and a musical foundation for him. A popular live and session vocalist in Nashville, Kevin appeared on brother Kirk's "The Gospel According to Jazz, Volume 1" (1997) and "Romance Language" (2012) among others, and has released two solo albums, "Timetable" (2003) and "One Life To Love" (2008). 


This year's Jazz On The Move series is presented with support from Caterpillar Financial Services, and Peter and Anne Neff


The program is at 3:00 pm and is free and open to the public. Admission includes FREE admission to the Frist galleries and discounted parking.