Sunday, March 8, 2020 | 2pm
First Unitarian Church (536 Linton St, Cincinnati, OH 45219)

Something to Live For: Janelle Reichman Performs Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn wrote some of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s most important pieces, including Duke’s famous theme “Take the A Train”. In honor of Women’s History Month, joining the Phil DeGreg Trio will be virtuoso clarinetist and saxophonist Janelle Reichman. Janelle performs regularly with DIVA, the award-winning NYC all-female big band, and has guested with Jazz at Lincoln Center. Get ready for an unforgettable afternoon of music as Janelle and musicians from the CCJO perform some of the greatest compositions in jazz.

Jazz@First Series Sponsor: Al Harris

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Artist Profile: Janelle Reichman, clarinet and saxophone

Clarinetist and saxophonist Janelle Reichman has performed as a featured soloist all over the world with renowned ensembles such as Doc Severinsen and his Tonight Show Band, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra and many more.

Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, Janelle attended the Manhattan School of Music on full scholarship, quickly after which she embarked upon an exciting and diverse musical career in New York City, where she remained for a decade. Her musical work in NYC ran the gamut from the New Orleans sounds of The Redhook Ramblers to the soulful grooves of the R&B band ON THE SUN to the Broadway jazz musical After Midnight – and everything in between. Janelle’s debut solo album, Middleground, has received rave reviews.

In 2016, Janelle was a featured clarinetist at Jazz at Lincoln Center for Moonglow: The Magic of Benny Goodman, and in early 2018 she was welcomed back to Lincoln Center to perform as a guest clarinet soloist with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for the show Benny Goodman: The King of Swing, alongside respected clarinetists Anat Cohen and Ken Peplowski.

Janelle first discovered her love of music when she picked up the clarinet in fifth grade. As a teenager, Janelle was a member of bands that opened for Nicholas Payton’s ensemble and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Sextet, as well as attended numerous festivals around the country, including the Detroit International Jazz Festival, where Janelle was named Best High School Saxophonist. At age 17, she was accepted into Dave Liebman’s International Saxophone Masterclass, a week-long intensive workshop located in Liebman’s hometown of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Janelle’s rich tone and creative melodic ideas landed her a spot in the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) Sisters-in-Jazz Quintet, which opened for Nicholas Payton at the 2004 IAJE Conference in New York, and had performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. Janelle was also accepted into the full-scholarship Henry Mancini Institute for two years running, where she performed with Maria Schneider, Christian McBride, Ray Buretto, Chris Potter and Vince Mendoza.

Now happily back in her hometown in Michigan since 2016, Janelle can be heard around SE Michigan performing with groups such as accomplished pianist James Dapogny’s Easy Street Jazz Band, the high-energy klezmer band Klezmephonic, and her own jazz quintet Janelle Reichman +4 for which she regularly composes new music and with which she frequently performs around Ann Arbor to soldout audiences. When she’s not playing her clarinet or saxophone, Janelle is most likely designing and building websites for other musicians in the Midwest and NYC as part of her business Ellanyze.

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Artist profile: Phil DeGreg, piano

 

Phil DeGreg began playing the piano in his childhood and now performs as a jazz pianist internationally. His earliest jazz influences were Bud Powell and Bill Evans, but he is accomplished and comfortable in a wide range of jazz styles, ranging from mainstream to bebop to Brazilian jazz. A graduate of Yale and the University of North Texas, he toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra in the 1980’s, and has 10 CD’s to his credit as a leader. For 13 years he accompanied many national and international jazz artists in the house trio in Cincinnati’s famous Blue Wisp Jazz Club. He has been on staff with the renowned Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops since 1983, and has performed and taught in Europe and South America.

 

Phil DeGreg is the retired Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts study grants. In 2008 he was awarded a 4 month Fulbright Fellowship as a lecturer in Brazil.

 

His text “Jazz Keyboard Harmony” is a practical text for teaching jazz harmony for all musicians, and is used all over the world in universities and for private study.

 

Learn more about Phil DeGreg on his website http://phildegreg.com.

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About the Artist: William Thomas ("Billy") Strayhorn

If you are familiar with the jazz composition, “Take the A Train,” then you know something about not only Duke Ellington, but also Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn, its composer. Strayhorn joined Ellington’s band in 1939, at the age of 24. Ellington liked what he saw in Billy and took this shy, talented pianist under his wings. Neither one was sure what Strayhorn’s function in the band would be, but their musical talents had attracted each other. By the end of the year Strayhorn had become essential to the Duke Ellington Band; arranging, composing and sitting-in at the piano. Billy made a rapid and almost complete assimilation of Ellington’s style and technique. It was difficult to discern where one’s style ended and the other’s began. The results of the Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration brought much joy to the jazz world.

The history of the family of William Thomas Strayhorn (his mother called him “Bill”) goes back over a hundred years in Hillsborough, North Carolina. One set of great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. George Craig, lived behind the present Farmer’s Exchange. A great grand-mother was the cook for Robert E. Lee. Billy, however, was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1915. His mother, Lillian Young Strayhorn, brought her children to Hillsborough often. Billy was attracted to the piano that his grandmother, Elizabeth Craig Strayhorn owned. He played it from the moment he was tall enough to reach the keys. Even in those early years, when he played, his family would gather to listen and sing.

In 1923 Billy entered the first grade in a little wooden school house, since destroyed. Soon after that, however, his mother moved her family to Pittsburgh to join Billy’s father, James Nathaniel Strayhorn. Mr. Strayhorn had gotten a job there as a gas-maker and wire-puller. Charlotte Catlin began to give Billy private piano lessons. He played the piano everyday, sometimes becoming so engrossed that he would be late for his job. He also played in the high school band.

His father enrolled him in the Pittsburgh Musical Institute where he studied classical music. He had more classical training than most jazz musicians of his time.

Strayhorn lived a tremendously productive life. He influenced many people that he met, and yet remained very modest and unassuming all the while. For a time he coached Lena Horne in classical music to broaden her knowledge and improve her style of singing. He toured the world with Ellington’s band and for a brief time lived in Paris. Strayhorn’s own music is internationally known and honored. It has been translated in French and Swedish.

Some of Strayhorn’s compositions are: “Chelsea Bridge,” “Day Dream,” “Johnny Come Lately,” “Rain Check” and “Clementine.” The pieces most frequently played are Ellington’s theme song, “Take the A Train” 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.

In 1946, Strayhorn received the Esquire Silver Award for outstanding arranger. In 1965, the Duke Ellington Jazz Society asked him to present a concert at New York’s New School of Social Research. It consisted entirely of his own work performed by him and his quintet. Two years later Billy Strayhorn died of cancer. Duke Ellington’s response to his death was to record what the critics cite as one of his greatest works, a collection titled And His Mother Called Him Bill, consisting entirely of Billy’s compositions. Later, a scholarship fund was established for him by Ellington and the Julliard School of Music.

P.O. Box 428798 Cincinnati OH 45242

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