strayhorn

Eric Comstock & Randy Napoleon Release Bittersweet

The pianist & vocalist Eric Comstock, a star of the Off-Broadway hit OUR SINATRA known for his pop and jazz interpretations, and guitarist Randy Napoleon, currently of the Freddy Cole Quartet, have collaborated on a uniquely intimate voice/guitar CD, "Bitter/Sweet", on Harbinger Records.

Co-produced by Comstock and Katherine Miller, "Bitter/Sweet" features songs by Rodgers & Hart, Jobim (with a lyric by the late Susannah McCorkle), Lane and Lerner, Billy Strayhorn, Henry Mancini, Billy May, Paul Weston and others from the American, Brazilian and English songbooks, all arranged by Comstock and Napoleon. Standards such as "I Have Dreamed," "This Can't Be Love," "Gone With the Wind," "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," and "If I Had You" are joined by such rarities as Roger Schore's lyric to Strayhorn's "Ballad for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters". The album also includes "Two for the Road," on which Comstock is joined by his wife, celebrated vocalist Barbara Fasano. Comstock’s other CDs include “No One Knows”, “Young Man of Manhattan” and “All Hart”, and he is profiled in Will Friedwald's new book "The Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers" (Pantheon, 2010). Napoleon's arrangements are heard on Cole's Grammy-nominated salute to Billy Eckstine, "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B."

Comstock and Napoleon first worked together at a concert for Lincoln Center's American Songbook in 2003, and felt it was time to record the duets they have performed in concert halls and festivals around the country in the years since. Napoleon says, "This is one of my favorite musical combinations. Whoever first carved a guitar out of a block of wood must have had a singer in mind -- guitar and voice are that natural together. Eric is also a first-rate pianist and accompanist, so I was particularly honored when he asked me to record with guitar and voice alone."

Comstock adds, "We live in a noisy world, and Randy and I are trying to show that whatever is worth saying musically can be said softly and slowly. This album is an antidote to stress, and Randy and I are extremely proud of it."

Comstock returns to the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room with Barbara Fasano on January 4th in a new show entitled, "HELLUVA TOWN: A  New York Soundtrack", featuring an idiosyncratic  mix of songs from Broadway and Hollywood, the pop singer-songwriters, and the jazz songbook.  Performances of "HELLUVA TOWN", which continue through January 15th, 2011, are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 8:30pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 and 11pm.

PREZ FEST 2009 CELEBRATING BILLY STRAYHORN

Legendary Composer, Arranger, Pianist March 14 and 15, 2009 At Saint Peter’s Church, 54th and Lexington, New York City

Billy Strayhorn… the biggest human being who ever lived, a man with the greatest courage, the most majestic stature, a highly skilled musician whose impeccable taste commanded the respect of all musicians and the admiration of all listeners. —Duke Ellington
 
Saturday, March 14

3:00 PM Two-hour listening session of Billy Strayhorn recordings
Free

Sunday, March 15

 

4:00 PM   David Hajdu, author of Lush Life, presents
                                             “Dancing Without Duke: Strayhorn’s Work Away from Ellington”
Free

5:00 PM Jazz Vespers with Junior Mance / Hide Tanaka Duo
Freewill Offering

7:00 PM CONCERT with Randy Weston, Billy Taylor, Jeb Patton, David Wong, Winard Harper, Valerie Capers, John Robinson, Earl Williams, Aaron Diehl, Gene Bertoncini, Sara Caswell, Alan Ferber, Dan Pratt, Nate Radley, Gary Wang, Jimmy Owens, Mike Howell, Mike Hashim, Ehud Asherie, Darius deHaas, 18-piece Jazz Band Classic directed by Chris Winans, The Ellington Legacy Band (with Edward Ellington, Norman Simmons, Virginia Mayhew, Nancy Reed, Jami Dauber, Paul Wells, Tom DiCarlo, Noah Bless) and Jimmy Owens will be the emcee
$20 Suggested Donation-- tickets at http://www.saintpeters.org/jazz

An exhibit of Billy Strayhorn memorabilia will be an important part of the tribute.

 
Produced by the Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter’s Church and The Duke Ellington Society, TDES, Inc.
More information at http://www.saintpeters.org/jazz or 212 935 2200
 
Take the “E” train to Lexington Avenue or “#6” to 51st Street

Prez Fest 2009 | Celebrating Billy Strayhorn | March 14 & 15

Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn- for the Grateful Web

Saint Peter's Church, known worldwide as the "Jazz Church," will present "Prez Fest 2009 — Celebrating Billy Strayhorn."  The festival begins with a listening session of Billy Strayhorn recordings on Saturday, March 14 at 3:00 PM and continues on Sunday with a lecture on Billy Strayhorn at 4:00 PM, Jazz Vespers at 5:00 PM and a Concert at 7:00 PM.  A variety of groups will perform the music of Billy Strayhorn.  Billy Strayhorn's piano was gifted to the church years ago and its refurbishing will be celebrated.

Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967), composer, arranger and pianist, was born in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in Hillsborough, N.C. and Pittsburgh, Pa. where he received his musical training.  He first met Duke Ellington in 1938 and worked in close collaboration with him for three decades.  Some of the world's great compositions were written by Billy Strayhorn:  Take the A Train, Lush Life, Chelsea Bridge, Something to Live For, Day Dream, Rain Check, Passion Flower, Midriff, Rain Check and Johnny Come Lately. In collaboration with Duke Ellington, he produced many concert works including: Perfume Suite, Such Sweet Thunder and A Drum is a Woman.

"Billy Strayhorn… the biggest human being who ever lived, a man with the greatest courage, the most majestic stature, a highly skilled musician whose impeccable taste commanded the respect of all musicians and the admiration of all listeners."  —Duke Ellington

David Hajdu, scholar and author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, will speak about Billy Strayhorn on Sunday at 4:00 PM with recorded music.  Junior Mance and Hide Tanako (piano/bass duo) will lead the music at Jazz Vespers at 5:00 PM.

Musicians who are already confirmed to perform at the Sunday evening concert include Randy Weston, Jimmy Heath, Billy Taylor, Jeb Patton, David Wong, Valerie Capers, John Robinson, Earl Williams, Aaron Diehl, Gene Bertoncini, Sara Caswell, Kenny Davis, Mike Howell, and The Ellington Legacy Band with Edward Ellington, Norman Simmons, Virginia Mayhew, Nancy Reed, Jami Dauber, Paul Wells, Tom DiCarlo, Noah Bless, and the Jazz Band Classic (18-pieces), and others.  Jimmy Owens will be the emcee and will also perform.
 
"Prez Fest" is a jazz festival created to celebrate the talents of jazz legends who are no longer with us and about whom people should learn more.  Last year Billie Holiday was honored.  In the future, the plan is to honor a different jazz legend each year.  The name "Prez Fest" has blossomed out of the "To Prez with Love," a tribute to Lester Young which had been held at Saint Peter's for over 30 years.  By using Prez in the name of the festival we continue to honor Lester Young and his music.

The Jazz Ministry of Saint Peter's Church is "a home for diverse individuals and communities which celebrates the dignity and vitality of Jazz, provides vibrant liturgy and pastoral care, and through intersecting partnerships, offers jazz programs, education and services."  An outreach program of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City, The Jazz Ministry was founded in 1965 by the late Reverend John Garcia Gensel who created Jazz Vespers, a worship service featuring a wide range of jazz musicians that is held each Sunday at 5:00 PM.  Our pastors include Amandus Derr, Jared Stahler, Bill Eschen and Héctor Ribone.  The Jazz Ministry thrives today with many events and programs such as All Nite Soul, Prez Fest, Jazz on the Plaza, Women in Jazz Festival, Seminars for Musicians, Midtown Jazz at Midday, memorials, tributes, concerts, and others yet to be developed, to serve the jazz community.

The Duke Ellington Society (TDES, Inc.) is an organization dedicated to celebrating the life, music and legacy of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.  TDES, Inc. was incorporated in 1992 as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization in the state of New York.  Founded during Duke's lifetime in 1959, it will observe its 50th anniversary in 2009 and it has grown to over 450 members representing 25 countries.  Members meet once a month, usually on the third Wednesday, at Saint Peter's Church for a variety of listening sessions, concerts, lectures and parties.  Meetings begin at 7:30 PM and all are welcome.

"Prez Fest 2009—Celebrating Billy Strayhorn" takes place on March 14 and 15, 2009 at Saint Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street).
Saturday, March 14: 3:00 PM  Two-hour listening session of well-known and rare Billy Strayhorn recordings. Free  
Sunday, March 15: 4:00 PM  Presentation by David Hajdu, author of Lush Life.  Free
5;00 PM: Jazz Vespers with Junior Mance / Hide Tanako Duo Free Will Offering
7:00 PM: Concert — $20 Suggested Donation — Tickets available at the door.
212 935 2200 ● "E" train to Lexington Avenue or "#6" to 51st Street