Album pays tribute to Billy Strayhorn and features original compositions; highlights include renditions of Strayhorn classics “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Chelsea Bridge,” and “Cashmere Cutie” and Marlon Martinez’s original compositions “Blood Moon,” “Audrey The Dancer,” and “Fay”
Available: January 16, 2023
First single, Strayhorn’s “All Day Long”
available December 7, 2022
Marlonius Jazz Orchestra will perform at the GRAMMY Museum®’s Clive Davis Theater on December 7, 2022;
Tickets on sale Thursday, November 10th, 2022
“Ever Up and Onward: A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn,” an eight-part video series hosted by Marlon Martinez and presented by the Colburn School that explores the composer’s life, legacy and music
Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, September 27, 2022) – Marlonius Jazz Orchestra, founded and led by bassist and Colburn Conservatory of Music alumnus Marlon Martinez, will release its debut album, Marlonius | Strayhorn, featuring the music of Billy Strayhorn and a selection of Marlon’s original compositions, on January 16, 2023. The album was made possible by the Colburn School’s Amplify Series, and the first single, Strayhorn’s “All Day Long,” will be released on December 7, 2022. Written around 1951 and originally titled “Lavender Lift,” “All Day Long” is a revived composition that was played by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra. Both the album and single will be available on all streaming platforms.
The Marlonius Jazz Orchestra will also appear at the Clive Davis Theater at the GRAMMY Museum® on December 7, 2022; tickets will be on sale November 10, 2022. For more information about the GRAMMY Museum’s public programs, please visit grammymuseum.org/programs.
An eight-part video series, “Ever Up And Onward: A Tribute To Billy Strayhorn” is available now at colburnschool.edu/strayhorn. Hosted by Marlon Martinez and presented by the Colburn School, the series includes lectures, interviews, audio recordings, archival footage and performances by Marlonius Jazz Orchestra that celebrate the composer’s impact and legacy.
Marlon was selected as an artist-in-residence for Colburn School’s inaugural 2021-22 Amplify Series, which celebrates the careers of artists of color and others underrepresented in classical music and dance through on-campus, short-term residencies. Colburn School supports each Amplify artist with institutional resources, including recording projects, marketing support, and engagement work in the community through the Center for Innovation and Community Impact.
The Colburn School brought Marlon’s Strayhorn project to fruition by providing logistical and financial support: providing the space for recording and filming and funding the recording engineers, music, and musicians for the album recording as well as a videographer and educational consultant to pull the video project together.
“Billy Strayhorn has impacted me musically and personally over the past five years, and I’m so proud to present Marlonius Jazz Orchestra and our debut recording project, Marlonius | Strayhorn,” said Marlon. “It is an extreme honor to bring his music to contemporary audiences. I feel that there is such a richness and timelessness in Billy’s art that is deeply personal to me, but also extremely relatable to people today. Engaging with Strayhorn’s music is an amazing and rewarding experience for both performers and listeners. I’m very thankful to the Colburn School, Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc. and the Billy Strayhorn Foundation for their continuous love and support of my dream to keep Strayhorn’s legacy moving ‘ever up and onward!'”
Marlon first discovered Billy Strayhorn’s music in middle school, not knowing it was Strayhorn who wrote the music since it was always Duke Ellington’s name on the album covers and liner notes, and Ellington’s publishing company was credited on various Strayhorn compositions and arrangements. Around 2015, after studying at Colburn Conservatory of Music, Marlon began listening to Ellington’s music again, and particularly loved the tracks that were in fact Strayhorn works. Marlon connected with Strayhorn’s impressionistic atmosphere in his writing style, the melancholy undertones in several of his compositions, his sophisticated melodies, and the lush orchestrations that felt very symphonic. Online resources and a few books confirmed Marlon’s theory that Strayhorn wrote many of the compositions he was enjoying, so he went down a rabbit hole to look for Strayhorn rarities and back stories about his music. It was in 2018 that Marlon contacted Alyce Claerbaut, President of Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc., and Billy Strayhorn’s niece, who assisted Marlon on his journey from that point on.
Marlon is also a winner of Colburn School’s 2020 New Venture Competition, an entrepreneurship program that provides strategic and financial support to students and alumni who wish to launch new business ideas, partnerships, and performance models. Marlon received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees on a full scholarship at the Colburn Conservatory of Music as a classical bass student of Leigh Mesh (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and Peter Lloyd (Minnesota Orchestra) from 2009-2015.
A virtuoso pianist, lyricist, and orchestrator, Strayhorn best known for his 28-year collaboration with jazz icon Duke Ellington, from 1939 to his untimely death in 1967. Strayhorn composed in the shadows of his charismatic partner, and although he wasn’t a household name in his lifetime, his distinct style was prevalent anywhere Duke Ellington’s music was heard. Strayhorn penned some of the finest jazz standards, including “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Lush Life,” “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing,” “Satin Doll,” “Chelsea Bridge,” “Day Dream,” and “Something To Live For.”
Despite the lack of credit and publicity, Strayhorn was a trendsetter who inspired countless legends with his forward-thinking melodies, lyrics and orchestrations, which have contributed greatly to the sound of modern jazz and the Great American Songbook. Black and openly gay, Strayhorn was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, teaming up with personal friends like Lena Horne in social justice campaigns, fundraisers, and salons. He was close friends with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and accompanied his private speeches with piano music. Billy Strayhorn passed away in 1967 at age 51, a victim of cancer. It would take 30 years after his passing before groundbreaking research unveiled his life story and music. Strayhorn’s family established Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc. in 1997, a new publishing company that has reclaimed and registered his music posthumously, and thanks to the educational outreach of the Billy Strayhorn Foundation, founded in 2010, Strayhorn’s fan base continues to grow internationally.
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