Celebrating Strayhorn!
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"Early Bird" Strayhorn-Inspired

Caton Castle May 2015 Series

5 Events/$60


A Billy Strayhorn Conversation


The Art of Musical Composition


Performing Arts and
the Queer Aesthetic


Strayhorn on Strings

Late last year, when I was considering our jazz culture programming focus for 2015, I discovered Billy Strayhorn's November 29, 1915 birth. Considering my knowledge of Mr. Strayhorn (I thought relatively significant) was really limited thinking of him as an employee of "our  DC-born genius" Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington when, in fact I've come to discover Strayhorn was Ellington's composing equal who's collaborative efforts with Ellington was the work of a genius. 

Strayhorn-Informed Conversations & Performances
Vocalist Karen Lovejoy who's noted Strayhorn as "the genius behind Ellington" to be shared in her upcoming May 2nd "The Giant that Lived in the Shadows" performance as an exploration of Strayhorn's soulful, haunting melodies, captivating harmonies, and sophisticated lyrics; however, before Karen's performance you might want to join our April 4th "The Art of Musical Composition" conversation with pianist Sam Prather, percussionist Nasar Abadey, bassist Herman Burney, and saxophonist Marshall Keys is designed to explore Strayhorn as a composer; Strayhorn was openly gay most of his adult life hence we're hosting a April 12th "Performing Arts and the Queer Aesthetic" conversation, led by dancer/historian Melvin Deal and writer/director Alan Sharpe, will explore how gay performing artists deal with their identity through their art and a dramatic reading of "Day Dream" written by jazz vocalist Barry Moton and HIV activist Rodderick Sheppard, a play inspired by the life of jazz artist and composer Billy Strayhorn that contrasts Billy’s journey, looking back on his life during an interview before a major concert, with the journey of Andre, an aspiring jazz vocalist struggling to find his voice in today’s world; finally Strayhorn's music will be presented through the varied genres: SynchcroniCity's string ensemble April 19th performance and our "Strayhorn-Inspired: Variations On A Theme" Swing, Caribbean, Blues, Be-Bop, Melodies/Harmonies series in Baltimore's Caton Castle each Saturday in May; Jennelle Gill's Kennedy Center May 31st "Exploring Strayhorn" performance; and our five-day EAST RIVER JAZZFest in June in partnership with the DC Jazz Festival that'll present Afro-Cuban, Hip-Hop, Swing, Caribbean, Blues, Be-Bop and Classical Strayhorn musical genres.


So, join me, yearlong, as I journey along these paths of discovery Celebrating Strayhorn! Most of our events are Admission Free that welcomes your financial support as well!........vernard r gray