Did you know that we’re right in the middle of Jazz Appreciation Month? For the last 13 years, the Smithsonian has used the month of April to celebrate and promote the rich history of jazz, often called “America’s classical music.” Each year, a different jazz legend is highlighted, and this year’s poster boy (literally) is Billy Strayhorn, the one-of-a-kind composer and arranger who served as Duke Ellington’s right hand man for almost 30 years. 2015 is the year of Strayhorn’s centennial, so it’s as good a time as any to recognize his considerable musical contributions.
To join in the Jazz Appreciation Month celebrations, AccuRadio has launched a new channel, “Composers: Strayhorn” that features hundreds of recorded versions of Strayhorn’s compositions. Strayhorn is known for his gorgeous melodies that communicate a complex sense of melancholy, like “Lush Life,” “Chelsea Bridge” and “Lotus Blossom,” but he could also swing when he wanted to, and composed the Ellington band’s signature tune, “Take the ‘A’ Train,” which was a bona fide hit in its day. Listeners to the new channel will hear a wide variety of Strayhorn’s music by artists ranging from the Ellington band itself to modernists like Vijay Iyer. You might even hear Linda Ronstadt or Lady Gaga take a stab at some Strayhorn!
Billy Strayhorn isn’t the only significant jazz artist celebrating a centennial in 2015, though. The unparalleled singer Billie Holiday would have turned 100 on Tuesday, April 7th, and AccuRadio launched a channel that day to shed light on her unique artistry. Our “Billie Holiday Centennial” channel is playing a wealth of classic Holiday tracks in addition to other artists’ recordings of songs written by or associated with Lady Day, like “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”. The channel also features music from some of the many available Holiday tribute albums, including just-released music from singers Cassandra Wilson and José James.
Our Billy and Billie channels are a great way to start your Jazz Appreciation Month festivities, but if you’re looking to go a little deeper, AccuRadio offers over 80 different jazz channels to delve into — that’s a lot of appreciating just waiting for you. Listen now!