One thing is sure: underneath the crowd-winning stage show, there is a seriously talented musician. The arrangements and orchestrations, up to full big band, were written by Strong himself. There are original compositions showing an appreciation of the jazz classics. His piano playing belies a deep knowledge of the swinging greats – Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans – and his vocals have further matured during the course of more than 150 international performances.
Anthony’s formative early years were spent, on scholarships, at 3 of England’s leading music schools, first studying classical music before, eventually, turning to jazz piano. The early obsessions with Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly eventually led to Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Nat King Cole; singing was the logical next step. Despite the stellar education, it was an out-of-the-blue offer to spend 9-months as understudy to Jerry Lee Lewis in a London West End musical that perhaps shaped his career most noticeably to where it is today, developing a stagecraft and audience rapport that has come to characterise his live show.
Since signing to iconic French label Naïve Records in 2013, he has been hailed by UK newspaper Metro as “a major new talent,” featured on the front page of daily national newspaper Le Figaro and performed live on national TV in Germany, Poland, Turkey & Portugal. His last album, Stepping Out, reached #1 on the US iTunes Jazz Charts and saw the radio giant NPR feature him in a special 60- minute feature programme from Hollywood. He has slowly but steadily built a touring capability that has so far reached 26 countries across 4 continents. The tour schedules speak for themselves and include, to name just a few, the 1,300 seat CCB in Lisbon, Istanbul’s Is Sanat Concert Hall, legendary French festival Jazz in Marciac, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and Litchfield Festival in the USA.
Strong’s new album, On A Clear Day, is a statement of intent to continue doing what he does best. The repertoire is unashamedly ‘old school’ – from jazz standards and classics, through to early Stevie Wonder and Motown – a cross section of his personal record collection. There is nothing ‘old’ about the treatment of them though. The songs capture the fresh, positive and feel-good energy of his audience-winning tours. More than 20 musicians were involved in the making of this album with aim – in the words of Anthony himself – of giving the listener the “POW” they get when they see him perform live.