Grammy-nominated pianist/vocalist Judy Carmichael and Grammy-winning pianist/vocalist Billy Stritch are joining forces for an unparalleled evening at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. The spectacular duo will perform Jazz Inspired with Judy Carmichael and Billy Stritch on Saturday, May 21st at 8 p.m.
Throughout the show, the musicians will play, sing and give insight on their time spent in the music industry. The performance will feature back-to-back grand pianos, and mark the inaugural time that Carmichael and Stritch share the stage.
“We are so thrilled to have the incomparable Judy Carmichael and Billy Stritch performing a special joint concert at Bay Street,” said Scott Schwartz, Artistic Director at Bay Street Theater. “I know this will be a special treat for jazz aficionados.”
Carmichael, who is considered one of the world’s leading interpreters of stride piano and swing, hosts her own public radio show, Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired, which can be heard on SiriusXm as well as stations across the country (on the East End it’s featured on 88.3FM). This Bay Street concert and conversation will be recorded and broadcast on a later date. 2016 commemorates the 17th anniversary of the beloved Podcast, SiriusXM and Public Radio Show, where Carmichael speaks with a wide array of guests (she’s hosted everyone from Tony Bennett to Seth MacFarlane) about their passion for jazz and how the music inspires them.
“Judy Carmichael exhibits a truly remarkable ability to channel Peggy Lee’s breathy invitingness and her befogged insouciance. (She also) echoes the intense perspicacity of the solo albums of Annie Ross. In other words, she winningly blends two of the all-time finest, most intuitive jazz singers,” noted America’s Jazz Times Magazine.
She has headlined at major concert halls and festivals globally, from Carnegie Hall to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. For Two Handed Stride, her Grammy-nominated recording, Carmichael joined forces with bassist Red Callender, drummer Harold Jones, guitarist Freddie Green and saxophonist Marshall Royal. She has written two books on stride piano and multiple articles on the subject of jazz. Additionally, Carmichael has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, NPR’s Morning Edition, Entertainment Tonight, CBS’ Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt and several other shows.
Stritch, a Texas native, began his music career at just 12-years-old, playing piano at his neighborhood First Presbyterian Church. When the community found out about the child prodigy, his tunes became a hot commodity. Jazz greats like Oscar Peterson and George Shearing inspired Stritch, but it was his older sister’s fondness for Elton John and Billy Joel that opened his eyes and ears to a new genre.
During his time at the University of Houston, Stritch teamed up with two female vocalists and founded Montgomery, Plant & Stritch. The jazz vocal trio performed at local saloons, and eventually booked a gig at one of the most prestigious supper clubs in the country. When the JVC Jazz Festival matched the group with Mel Torme at Carnegie Hall, they became regulars at the Newport Jazz Festival, and even toured Italy with the North Sea Jazz Festival, four years in a row.
After the band went their own separate ways, Billy headed to The Big Apple and fate struck. As he showcased his talents at a piano bar, Liza Minnelli dropped by, listened and hired him to arrange her “Steppin’ Out At Radio City” extravaganza. That chance meeting led to performances at The Royal Albert Hall in London, The Palais de Congres in Paris, The Municipale in Rio de Janeiro, The Russiya in Moscow, and NHK Hall in Tokyo. Stritch served as associate producer, pianist and arranger for Minnelli’s Gently, which earned two Grammy nominations, and he also co-arranged, with Marvin Hamlisch, Minnelli On Minnelli at the Palace Theater in New York City.
Stritch collaborated with Nashville writer Sandy Knox on the 1994 country hit Does He Love You?. Reba McEntire and Linda Davis recorded the song, which took home a Grammy Award. In 2001, he switched gears to focus on theater. Stritch was cast in the role of Oscar, the piano-playing crooner, in the Broadway revival of 42nd Street, where he shared the stage with Christine Ebersole. That led to In Your Dreams, a nightclub act that Ebersole and Stritch performed at Feinstein’s in New York, The Cinegrill in Hollywood, and Manhattan’s famed jazz nightspot Birdland. In November 2004, the duo released a CD titled In Your Dreams on the Ghostlight Records.
For his first solo recording, Billy Stritch, the musician is accompanied by Chip Jackson on bass and Terry Clarke on drums. Waters Of March: The Brazilian Album, his follow-up, features Dave Ratajczak on drums, David Finck on bass, as well as a 40-piece string orchestra. His third album, Jazz Live, was recorded live at The Jazz Standard in New York City, and includes John Arbo on bass and Dave Ratajczak on drums. “Equally gifted as a player and a singer, and doing both with no-holds-power, Stritch is not afraid to dazzle,” said London Times about the compilation.
Tickets range from $35 to $75 (which includes a VIP Reception).
Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.