SNJO honours Billy Strayhorn at 100

A special series of concerts by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra will pay homage to Ellington band composer Billy Strayhorn in his centenary year

The latest project from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) directed by Tommy Smith focuses on the life and music of composer and long-time Duke Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn, in "The Jazz Genius of Billy Strayhorn".

A series of Strayhorn concerts by the SNJO will celebrate what would have been Strayhorn's 100th birthday and also mark the 20th anniversary of the SNJO, established by Smith in 1995.

Strayhorn was born in 1915 and collaborated with Duke Ellington over three decades, during which time they wrote hundreds of hits together. Duke Ellington said: "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."

Many of Strayhorn's compositions were uncredited until jazz historian Walter van de Leur uncovered a wealth of previously unknown Strayhorn songs in the 1990s. This culminated in a concert from the SNJO directed by Van de Leur in 2003 which revived some of Strayhorn's lost music.

The SNJO's new series of Strayhorn concerts will build on the success of the 2003 venture. They will air compositions Strayhorn wrote with Ellington as well as Strayhorn originals, including his more classical forays with works such as Orson and Theme From Anatomy Of A Murder and his reworking of Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue.

The concerts will take place on Friday 20 February at Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Saturday 21 February at Buccleuch Centre, Langholm, and Sunday 22 February at the Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow. All concerts begin at 7.30pm and tickets can be purchased online at

Sally Evans-Darby

Your Comments:

Posted by Alyce Claerbaut, President, Billy Strayhorn Songs, 28 January 2015, 15:33 (1 of 1)

We at Billy Strayhorn Songs are very pleased with the programs that the SNJO is doing in honor of Billy Strayhorn. I invite you to listen to my recent Strayhorn Tribute on January 19 at Calvin College titled: BILLY STRAYHORN: BEYOND THE PEACEFUL SIDE.
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