Saxophonists and clarinetists, Juilliard graduates Peter and Will Anderson and their quintet perform the music of Billy Strayhorn on his 100th birthday. Strayhorn's 28 years as Duke Ellington's co-composer and arranger produced songs such as "Take the 'A' Train," "Satin Doll," "Lush Life," "Something to Live For," and "Chelsea Bridge." This concert features the legendary Duke Ellington Orchestra drummer Steve Little, guitarist Gabe Schnider, bassist Neal Miner, vocalist Karen Oberlin, and guest speaker David Hajdu, the author of the acclaimed Billy Strayhorn biography "Lush Life."
Pianist and compositional genius William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn developed one of the most sophisticated and recognizable styles in all of music history. Throughout high school in Pittsburg, Strayhorn studied classical composition intensely, but the idea of a young black man breaking into the classical world was unheard of at that time. Soon after high school, Strayhorn discovered jazz pianists Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson, and met Duke Ellington after a concert when he was twenty-three. Strayhorn quickly developed a very close and complex musical relationship with Ellington, and bringing a smooth and linear classically schooled ear to Duke's works. Duke is quoted as saying, "Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine." Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Strayhorn was openly gay, participated in many civil rights causes, and became a close friend of Dr. Marin Luther King. Strayhorn died all too young in 1967 from esophageal cancer, and we celebrate his life and music on his 100th Birthday, November 29th, 2015.
"Virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone," (New York Times) Bethesda, Maryland natives Peter and Will Anderson at a very young age were drawn to the music of Charlie Parker, Lester Young, John Coltrane, and others. They toured the United Kingdom at age 15, and soon attended Juilliard in New York City. Peter and Will have headlined at Jazz at Lincoln Center, D.C.'s Blues Alley, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Sarasota Jazz Festival, South Carolina's Jazz Corner, Seattle's Triple Door, Iowa's Bix Beiderbecke Festival, and Phoenix's The Nash. Their ensemble has performed in twenty-six U.S. States, toured Japan, and featured four times in the famed "Highlights in Jazz" series, alongside legends Lou Donaldson, the Heath Brothers, and Wycliffe Gordon. They've released five albums as co-leaders featuring jazz greats Kenny Barron, Tootie Heath, and Bob Wilber. More at PeterAndWillAnderson.com
David Hajdu's biography of Billy Strayhorn, "Lush Life," sparked a renaissance in interest in Stayhorn's life and work when it was first published, in 1996. The result of 11 years of research and writing, the book won many honors and was named one of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time by the New York Times. A professor at Columbia University and music critic for The Nation, Hajdu will share his thoughts on Strayhorn's legacy as part of this program.
Karen Oberlin was named as one of the "Saviors of the Great American Songbook" by the New York Times and London's Classical Source, as well as the New York Nightlife Jazz Vocalist of the Year. She has received an Honorary Doctorate in music, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kitano, Iridium, the Cafe Carlyle and The Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room. to name a few. Mrs. Oberlin performs all over the world including annual engagements in London.
After falling in love with the guitar at age 10, Gabe Schnider has since performed or recorded with James Moody, Joshua Bell, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Kenny Burrell, Jane Monheit, and Wycliffe Gordon. Gabe is a two-time selectee for the GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble, a NEAA YoungArts winner in Jazz, and was one of ten semifinalists in the International Guitar Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Gabe recently served as Guitar Arranger for the award-winning independent motion picture "Teresa is a Mother."
Since the age of 19, bassist Neal Miner has been a solid fixture on the New York City jazz scene and is a favored bassist to Harry Allen, Russell Malone, Peter Bernstein, Dena DeRose, Ann Hampton Callaway, Loston Harris, James Moody, Frank Wess, Etta Jones, Bob Dorough, and Warren Vaché. Neal has toured and recorded with Jon Hendricks since 1998, has been backing Annie Ross steadily since 2005, joined Jane Monheit's band in 2007, and has released four of his own recordings.
Drummer and percussionist Steve Little has recorded with the big bands of Lionel Hampton, Charlie Barnett, and Duke Ellington (two Grammy Award-winning albums, His Mother Called Him Bill and The Second Sacred Concert). He also recorded with Dave Brubeck, Ray Nance, Terry Gibbs, Sal Salvador, and played with Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Clark Terry, Weather Report (on percussion), Teri Thornton, Joan Baez, Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, Billy Ekstine, Pearl Bailey, Josephine Baker, Mel Torme, Sara Vaughan, Anita O'day, Cab Callaway, and Andy Williams.