Detroit’s Planet D Nonet, a vibrant little-big band with an expansive repertoire, explores the full-breadth of the terrain on “A Salute to Strayhorn” (Detroit Music Factory). Included are such remarkable Strayhorn masterpieces as “Smada” and “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” classic collaborations with Ellington like “Such Sweet Thunder” and a few more popular songs like “My Little Brown Book” (Stayhorn), “Satin Doll” and “Just a-Sittin’ and a-Rockin’” (both Ellington and Strayhorn).

Led together by drummer RJ Spangler and trumpeter James O’Donnell, the band plays this music with affection, balancing the spirit of the past with the pop of the present tense.

There’s no question that the singers establish a bona fide artistic partnership on “Cheek to Cheek”. Better still, Lady Gaga meets Bennett on his musical territory, not the other away around, the accompanying jazz instrumentalists underscoring the point.

“Cheek to Cheek” is being released in standard and deluxe versions, the latter including 15 songs compared to 11 and emerging as the preferred album by far (additional bonus tracks are available on iTunes). But even the core material that appears on both versions makes for engaging listening.

No doubt Lady Gaga takes her biggest risk of the venture singing solo in Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” one of the most revered and demanding ballads in the jazz repertoire. There is a gutsiness to Lady Gaga’s interpretation, a willingness to lay emotions bare, that cannot be denied.

Bennett, too, gets his solo moments, nowhere more effectively than in Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady”. Bennett’s raw, searing account – with a devastating finale – deepens his catalog of profound balladry.

Howard Reich- Chicago Tribune

What would Billy Strayhorn think of La Rumba is a Lovesome Thing? It is, after all, relocated from its original big band setting into the Latin realm—to the maestro who singlehandedly transformed the sound and spirit of The Duke Ellington Orchestra for a quarter of a century, from 1942 until 1967. Superbly orchestrated by its leader Paul Carlon, most of the significant touchstones of Mr. Strayhorn’s great repertoire are featured on the record, or as many as can fit on a single disc and each is performed with a surprise and a delightful twist. La Rumba is a Lovesome Thing shows the flexibility of Strayhorn’s music, still sounding fresh and relevant not only in another era of music, but still having that beauty and meaning in an altogether different metaphor.

Because the lyrics of so many of Billy Strayhorn’s compositions reflect love lost or not yet obtained, few vocalist have attempted to record an entire release of his songs. But singer Allan Harris is up to the challenge. One of the top male singers to emerge in the 1990’s, Allan Harris’ brilliant and innovative approach to the works of Billy Strayhorn should make this an essential CD for jazz lovers.

“Terell Stafford’s intelligent and warm playing superbly matches the depths of Billy Strayhorn’s timeless compositions on this record. The songs may be familiar by now, but the interpretations here are far from the usual fare. Terell’s quintet approaches each work with great understanding to add new layers of musical meaning. What a treat.” — Walter van de Leur, author of “Something To Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn.” (New York: Oxford UP, 2002)

A contemporary tribute to Ellington’s indispensable writing  partner Billy Strayhorn. Don Braden and Mark Rapp’s “The Strayhorn Project”  presents celebrated Strayhorn music, as well as some lesser-known gems (from Satin Doll to Lament for Javenette) that shine brightly in the hands of Don  Braden, Mark Rapp, Gerald Clayton, Sachal Vasandani and the band including Rene  Hart and Greg Gonzalez. Released digitally on Strayhorn’s birthday in 2009 and  later released on physical CD in 2010, these new arrangements by Gerald Clayton,  Don Braden, Mark Rapp and Rene Hart are nothing less than unique and impressive.

Joe Henderson won a Grammy Award and world wide acclaim for his CD, ‘Lush Life’. Strayhorn wrote the title composition for this CD while still a teenager in Pittsburgh. Henderson shows absolute respect for Strayhorn’s material, with the help  of some fine sidemen, including Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, Stephen  Scott on piano, Christian McBride on bass, and Gregory Hutchinson on drums,  a collection at that time of some of the finest young talent around.

When Billy Strayhorn died of cancer in 1967, Duke Ellington was devastated. His closest friend and arranger had left his life full of music and memories. As a tribute, Ellington and his orchestra almost immediately began recording a tribute to Strayhorn, using the late arranger’s own compositions and charts. The album features well-known and previously unrecorded Strayhorn tunes that showcased his range, versatility, and, above all, the quality that Ellington admired him most for: his sensitivity to all of the timbral, tonal, and color possibilities an orchestra could bring to a piece of music. There are two versions of “Lotus Blossom.” Ellington claimed it was the piece Strayhorn most liked to hear him play. The LP version is a quiet, restrained, meditative rendition played solo by Ellington, with the most subtle and yet emotional nuances he ever presented on a recording as a pianist. Finally, closing the album is a bonus track, a trio version played in a whispering tone with only baritone saxophonist Harry Carney and bassist Aaron Bell accompanying Ellington. The piece was supposedly recorded as the band was packing up to leave. For a man who issued well over 300 albums, this set is among his most profoundly felt and very finest recorded moments.

Lena Horne returned to the stage to perform for the New York JVC Jazz Festival. She dedicated her performance to her late soulmate, Billy Strayhorn. She was so energized as a result of this outing that she agreed to go into the studio and cut a new CD; again a tribute to her closest friend and soulmate. There are several Strayhorn compositions which he created especially for Lena on this CD.

This superb box set celebrating the work of William Thomas Strayhorn echoes the basic paradox of this extraordinary jazz musician’s life and career.

The richness and diversity of the music it contains will delight the most obsessive Strayhorn aficionado; at the same time it offers a thrilling introduction to the man many know only as someone who once played in Duke Ellington’s band and wrote “Take The “A” Train.

The 7 CDs contain material presenting 62 of Strayhorn’s compositions, not only focusing on his work outside of the Ellington orchestra, but also presenting him in Duke’s company.

Billy Strayhorn, the man whose musical abilities could have made him a star in his own right, labored in the shadow of a world-famous benefactor. This collection of his recordings puts him firmly in the spotlight for once, revealing beyond doubt the true scale of his musical genius and contribution to jazz.