ASCAP & IAJE Commissioned Works Honoring Billy Strayhorn Premiered at 2007 IAJE Conference in New York City


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New Works by Rufus Reid and Oscar Perez Premiered

New York, NY - Two jazz works, commissioned by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) in memory of Billy Strayhorn, were premiered on January 11, 2007 during the Opening General Session at the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) Conference held at the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom in New York City.

Rufus Reid, composer, bassist and music educator, was recognized in the Established Composer category for Hues Of A Different Blue, performed by the Project Uprising Big Band under the direction of Reid, and Oscar Perez, composer and pianist, was recognized in the Emerging Composer category for Letter To A Friend, performed by the Oscar Perez Septet. The composers were awarded $7,500 and $3,000, respectively, as well as monies to prepare the materials for performance.

Reid and Perez were introduced to the audience of educators, musicians, industry executives, media and students by ASCAP Vice President Fran Richard who commented: “This is the tenth year that the ASCAP/IAJE Commissions program has celebrated an ASCAP jazz icon by commissioning two jazz works in their honor. Prior programs have honored Marian McPartland, Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Ornette Coleman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Dr. Billy Taylor."

Rufus Reid, premiere bassist and respected educator, and composer. He won the Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award for his composition Skies Over Emilia, and his Whims of the Blue Bird, is the result of that commission. In 2003, he created Linear Surroundings, a composition of four movements, supported by a grant from Chamber Music America, generously funded by The Doris Duke Foundation. Reid received a 2006 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the 2006 Sackler Composition Commission Prize, the latter resulting in the composition Quiet Pride, inspired by four Elizabeth Catlett sculptures, scheduled to debut in March 2007, at the University of Connecticut/Storrs. Reid is equally known as an educator and clinician, presenting at venues such as the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Stanford University Jazz Workshop, and the Lake Placid Institute. He was a full professor and director of the jazz studies program for 20 years at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. He received the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's 2005 Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award for his dedication to advancing jazz and for his commitment to jazz education. Reid is a Motema Recording Artist.

Oscar Perez was raised on his father's Cuban folk music, piano lessons and playing in the church band. He attended the “FAME-d" LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and the University of North Florida, where he began composing for ensemble and big band. He continued his studies with Danilo Perez while pursuing his master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. He completed his master's degree at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, New York, under the guidance of Sir Roland Hanna. During that time, he continued studying composition and arranging with Michael Mossman. He has performed with jazz legends George Russell, Curtis Fuller, George Garzone, Wycliffe Gordon, Virginia Mayhew, and Steve Turre. He maintains a close association with The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center, which has provided him many teaching and performance opportunities. He co-wrote a jazz curriculum for the Colden Center that has been implemented into the alumni-teaching program for high schools in the borough of Queens, New York. For more, please visit www.oscarperezmusic.com.

ASCAP great Billy Strayhorn was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1915. He joined Duke Ellington's band in 1939, at the age of twenty-two. Less than a year later, Strayhorn became an arranger, composer and pianist with the Ellington band -- a collaboration that lasted until his death in 1967. Among the works that Strayhorn composed alone or with Ellington are the classics “Take the A Train," “Lotus Blossom," Chelsea Bridge, “Day Dream," “Johnny Come Lately," “Rain-check, and “Clementine."

The 2007 ASCAP/IAJE Commissions will honor the life and work of Frank Foster. These works will be premiered at the annual IAJE Conference in Toronto on January 9, 2008. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2007. (see website)

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing the world's largest repertory totaling over 8 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 270,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with over 70 music rights organizations such that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American Performing Rights Organization owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.

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