A virtuoso pianist, lyricist, and orchestrator, Billy Strayhorn was a pioneer of the modern big band sound. His 28-year collaboration with Duke Ellington left a significant mark on Ellington’s musical identity and brand. In this eight-part video series, bassist and Colburn Conservatory alumnus Marlon Martinez explores the life, legacy, and music of this jazz icon.
Ever Up and Onward presents an in-depth portrait of Billy Strayhorn through interviews, audio recordings, archival video footage, in-depth analysis of musical characteristics, and performances with the Marlonius Jazz Orchestra.
Special thanks to the Billy Strayhorn Foundation for its invaluable support of this project.
Meet composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn, who composed some of the greatest jazz standards of the mid-20th century and was a fierce advocate for the advancement of Black music and musicians.
Explore Billy Strayhorn’s pioneering style of the big band era, in which he brought a complexity and progressive touch to melody, orchestration, harmony, lyrics, and compositional form.
Explore signature techniques of Billy Strayhorn’s music that inspired countless legends with forward-thinking melodies, chord progressions and orchestrations.
Discover how Billy Strayhorn’s formal training in classical music influenced his compositional style.
Learn about the collaboration between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn that spanned almost 3 decades, resulting in some of the greatest compositions in jazz history.
Discover why Billy Strayhorn was lesser known and often uncredited, despite having written about 40% of Duke Ellington’s music.
Explore artistic choices made by Duke Ellington that changed or deleted some of Billy Strayhorn’s compositional elements in favor of a performance moment or particular player’s personality.
Learn how Billy Strayhorn elevated Black American music and paved the way for countless BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists.
To receive updates on Strayhorn educational content and performances from Colburn.
See the complete performances of works featured in each episode, plus additional Strayhorn performances by Colburn students