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Something to Live For – Music of Billy Strayhorn

“Something To Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn”

Arranger, lyricist, and pianist Billy Strayhorn was Duke Ellington’s alter ego. They partnered for 30+ years in writing both popular and artistic jazz compositions. “Take the A Train”, “Lush Life”, “Day Dream”, and “Isfahan” are examples of works penned by this quiet jazz composer and lyricist. “Something to Live For” will revisit Strayhorn’s masterpieces through a contemporary lens, with the help of some of Detroit’s most talented jazz musicians. They will explore the virtuoso’s library, combining energy and sophistication to present a unique vision in a way that Billy Strayhorn would’ve appreciated.

Playing the arrangements of award-winning composer / arranger / pianist Scott Gwinnell, the group is uniquely fronted by Janelle Reichman and Emma Aboukasm. Aboukasm sings both Strayhorn’s lyrical melodies as well as serving as an improvising horn, blending with Reichman on tenor sax and clarinet. The rhythm section of Gwinnell, Rob Bickley, and Pete Siers is a veteran trio that backs up many groups, including Reichman’s own Ann Arbor quintet.

The idea for “Something to Live For” came from Gwinnell, wanting to put together a limited-run group to explore Strayhorn’s music. It was decided among the group members more than a couple gigs were needed to achieve this; we therefore put together a string of performances at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, Cliff Bells, Kerrytown Concert House, Blue Llama, as well as other venues. Through this musical adventure, the group wrote their love letter to Strayhorn, and this performance at the Detroit Jazz Festival will show the culmination of their efforts.

September 5, 2020 11:00 pm Saturday 9/5 | Absopure Soundstage (42 Degrees N.)
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