Signature

DISCOGRAPHY
AS A LEADER / AS A COMPOSER

 

AS A LEADER

Lush Life: The Billy Strayhorn Songbook

"Though composed over the course of thirty years and spread out over dozens of albums by Ellington and his musicians, many of Strayhorn's compositions are closely related musically and cohere as a whole within the canon of Ellingtonia: Strayhorn music." David Hajdu, author of 'Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn'

(Farar, Straus, Giroux, 1996).

 Lush Life: Billy Strayhorn  1992

"Although not released until 1992, 25 years after composer Billy Strayhorn's death, this is his definitive CD. Strayhorn is heard singing Lush Life while backed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1964. These are very valuable and intriguing recordings, shedding some light on a nearly invisible genius" - Jazz commentator Scott Yanow

The Peaceful Side    1961(original release)

"After more than 20 years as an inextricable element in the musical complex that is Duke Ellington, Strayhorn emerges in these performances, recorded in Paris, as a personality in his own right. This is a lovely, low keyed set," wrote John S. Wilson in Down Beat magazine, 1961. Most of the songs are from Strayhorn's first decade as a composer, showing an introspective side of Billy playing from a very personal perspective.

AS A COMPOSER

We'll Be Together Again       1994

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.

Marian McPartland       1987

Billy Strayhorn was a supporter and friend of Marian McPartland long before the world discovered what a wonderful pianist she was. Marian has always been thrilled to play compositions of  Billy Strayhorn

...and His Mother Called Him Bill    1967

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.

Lush Life       1992

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.

The Strayhorn Project     2010

 

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.

This Side Of Strayhorn       2011

 "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)

Love Came - The Songs of Strayhorn     2001

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.

Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life     2007

Billy Strayhorn is one of jazz's most fabled figures. His myth gets a thorough exploration in the 90-minute documentary LUSH LIFE, and the soundtrack to that film is naturally filled with music by the famous composer, arranger, and pianist. Showcased here are 15 of Strayhorn's compositions performed by contemporary jazz artists like Joe Lovano, Dianne Reeves, and Bill Charlap. Appearances by iconic piano legend Hank Jones and Elvis Costello add glitter to the all-star roster.

Billy Strayhorn: Piano Passions     2005

This CD, takes the full contents of Strayhorn's 1961 LP "The Peaceful Side" (along with the great cover photo from the United Artists LP), adds in the eight Ellington-Strayhorn dual piano tunes found on "Great Times! Piano Duets with Billy Strayhorn",  and finishes off the program with two more takes on Tonk and a version of Drawing Room Blues.

A Billy Strayhorn Songbook      1997

Strayhorn classics performed by such notables as The Ray Brown Trio, Kenny Burrell, Tito Puente, Phil Woods and Jim McNeely, The Lew Tabackin Quartet and more!

Portrait of a Silk Thread. Newly Discovered Works Of Billy Strayhorn   2003

The first of 4 CD's recorded by the Dutch Jazz Orchestra, This CD begins to bring into focus the prolific composing that Strayhorn did during his career. According to Walter van de Leur, author of Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn, on the average Strayhorn wrote at least one piece a week during all thirty years he worked with Duke Ellington. That was more than the Ellington Orchestra could handle, especially since Duke himself composed a huge amount of material. Choices had to be made and thus many pieces fell by the wayside, never having appeared on any of Duke’s many records. Among those   were probably some of the finest works Strayhorn ever wrote. Luckily, the music of Strayhorn has been preserved for future generations in hundreds of handwritten scores. 

The present CD contributes to the documentation of the rich collection of unknown Strayhorn material still to be played. Eight tracks on this CD feature pieces that were never heard before. The other tracks were recorded by Ellington or Strayhorn at some point in the past, but this CD gives the original first versions, often written decades earlier than their issued counterparts.

You Go to My Head. Strayhorn and Standards. CD #2 in the Dutch Jazz Orchestra collection   2007

The larger part of Billy Strayhorn’s work for the Ellington Orchestra consisted of writing arrangements. Close to six hundred of his arrangements survive, of which literally hundreds eventually were performed or recorded by the Ellington band. Yet, Strayhorn’s inspiration seemed boundless, and still numerous arrangements had to be shelved. Strayhorn, an accomplished composer, tackled his arrangements with serious dedication. The recorded arrangements on this CD serve as a case in point. In his hands, the standards from the “American Songbook” reveal new and deeper layers, with the same overtones that resonate throughout Strayhorn’s own compositions. 

So This is Love: More Newly Discovered Works of Billy Strayhorn. CD#3 in the Dutch Jazz Orchestra collection.    2003

CD #3 is the successor of the widely acclaimed Portrait of a Silk Thread: Newly Discovered Works of Billy Strayhorn, which was first released in 1995. Again, the Dutch Jazz Orchestra plays Strayhorn works that have never been recorded before. In a number of instances, these works have never been performed either. The selection includes works that Strayhorn wrote or arranged while still in Pittsburgh: So This Is Love, Remember and Valse. Strayhorn wrote these four pieces for quite different occasions. The Chopinesque Valse was a piano solo which he must have performed numerous times as the piano-playing errand boy from Pittsburgh’s Pennfield Drugs, while So This Is Love in all likelihood was intended for his first theater show, Fantastic Rhythm. 

Other works evolve around the Copasetics, a group of tap-dance professionals Strayhorn presided. Their yearly revues were packed with Strayhorn originals and from these origins stem Feet on the Beat (from the 1961 Copasetics revue On the Riviera) and Swing Dance (from the 1962 Anchors Aweigh).

Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn. CD#4 in the Dutch Jazz Orchestra collection       2007

The larger part of the pieces on this fourth Strayhorn CD evolve around music Strayhorn wrote for the theater. In 1935, just out of high school, he composed a short show Fantastic Rhythm. A handful of numbers have survived, including the title song and the tune Let Nature Take Its Course. Another group of theater works stems from 1953, when Strayhorn provided music to a Federico García Lorca play titled The Love of Don Perlimplín for Belisa in Their Garden. Apart from Wounded Love—premiered by the Dutch Jazz Orchestra on Portrait of a Silk Thread—his unrecorded score includes Sprite Music, The Flowers Die of Love and Love, Love. He wrote Everything Is Copasetic! for one of the annual shows by the Copasetics, a group of tap-dance professionals who were Strayhorn friends as well as club memebers. From the early 1950s on, they staged cabaret style fundraisers that unfortunately were never recorded, with music and lyrics largely by Strayhorn. These shows were important events in New York’s black community, and played to sold-out venues.


 

The Nutcracker Suite

Recorded for the Columbia label in 1960 featuring jazz interpretations of "The Nutcracker" by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Ellington and Strayhorn. The album was rereleased on CD in 1990 as part of Three Suites along with Ellington's reworking of Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite" and "Suite Thursday," his tribute to John Steinbeck. The original 1960 cover is notable for the inclusion of Strayhorn's name and picture along with Ellington's.

A Proper Introduction to Billy Strayhorn; Passion Flower    2004

 

Distributed on the Proper Records Label, it includes 21 Strayhorn compositions and arrangements, many of them the original commercial recordings. From the 1939 'Something to Live For', to 1953's 'Satin Doll', this CD will give you a proper introduction to Billy Strayhorn and some of the classics he wrote for the Duke Ellington Orchestra during that time period. 

The Stanley Dance Sessions; Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Hodges

 

Stanley Dance was a well known jazz critic, writer and producer who came to the U.S. from England in 1958 to make a series of recordings of mainstream artist. This CD combines the Strayhorn/Hodges collaboration from 2 seperate recordings;Cue for Saxophone (recorded in 1959) and Johnny Hodges with Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra (recorded in 1961). Cue for Saxophone has Strayhorn at the piano, leading a septet of Elllington band mates. Hodges with Strayhorn and the orchestra puts Strayhorn back as the arranger and conductor of the 16 piece Ellington band.   

Great Times! Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn Piano Duets

 

Released in 1991, this CD reissues three unusual combo dates by Duke Ellington. Two of the sessions feature Ellington and Strayhorn both playing piano (while assisted by either Wendell Marshall or Joe Shulman on bass and sometimes an unidentified drummer). "Tonk" is the best-known performance but all eight numbers (which include "Cotton Tail" and "Johnny Come Lately") are quite fascinating. The remaining date has four songs that primarily serve as features for the cello of Oscar Pettiford who is accompanied by Ellington, bassist Lloyd Trotman, drummer Jo Jones and (on two tunes) the celeste of Strayhorn; "Perdido" and "Take the 'A' Train" are most memorable. Intriguing music.

Lotus Blossom: The Billy Strayhorn Project featuring The Michael Hashim Quartet

Released in 1990, Lotus Blossom: The Billy Strayhorn Project features Michael Hashim on alto and soprano sax, Michael Le Donne on piano, Dennis Irwin on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums. Those who have only a casual interest in Strayhorn's work may not be familiar with "Smada," "Juniflip," "Sunset and the Mockingbird (The Queen's Suite)," or "Grievin'"; someone who knows all of these pieces is more likely to be a serious jazz connoisseur.  Strayhorn, like Ellington, was an amazingly prolific composer -- he wrote a lot of valuable pieces that never became standards, and Hashim deserves applause for acknowledging that fact on this ambitious tribute.

Lush Life; Tribute to Billy Strayhorn, Gianni Basso

 

Released April 2013, veteran tenor saxophonist Gianni Basso, one of the top players in Europe and deserving to be recognized worldwide, salutes the late composer and his musical partner, Duke Ellington, with this elegant songbook. Backed by a superb rhythm section (pianist Andrea Pozza, bassist Luciano Milanese, and drummer Stefano Bagnoli), Basso savors each work with thoughtful performances, starting with "The Star-Crossed Lovers," one of many features for longtime alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. The lush take of "Isfahan" suggests tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. Pozza is at his very best playing imaginative lines in support of the leader in the gorgeous "Chelsea Bridge," long considered to be one of Strayhorn's most memorable ballads. No Strayhorn songbook could be considered complete without "Take the 'A' Train"; this arrangement is more of a subtle, swaggering swinger, instead of an over-the-top up-tempo workout. The sentimental "Orson" (dedicated to the extraordinary filmmaker and actor Orson Wells) is not common fare for Strayhorn interpreters, but Basso's convincing rendition may turn on other musicians to its elegant beauty. Also among Strayhorn's most loved works is "Lush Life"; Basso's richly textured solo adds yet another great recording of it to jazz history. 

Just Like Me

The Music of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

Milton Suggs & Willie Pickens

 

Milton Suggs and Willie Pickens collaborate on this piano-vocal rendition of 11 of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's beloved compositions. Willie Pickens, a legend and mainstay on the Chicago jazz scene, offers his 60+ years of musical expertise to help bring life to these compositions. The rich baritone of Milton Suggs is able to shine through with a stunning interpretation of each tune. This album seeks to highlight the emotional depth that can emerge from simplicity. Released May 2010.                                         
                           

                                                Day Dream

                                    Variations on Strayhorn

                                               Darius de Haas

                                                     2002

 The CD's liner notes are a great education, both about Strayhorn and de Haas. But for me the best surprise was de Haas' voice! What a range of styles and emotions... from the almost caberet feeling of "I've Got No Time," to the slinky "Satin Doll," to the heart wrenching "Somehting to Live For." His voice is just beautiful, and the muscians seem to be organically linked to his interpretations. I especially loved the saxaphone weaving in and out of de Haas' voice in "Lush Life," and the flugel horn and strings on "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." Day Dream is one knockout after another, with some wonderful rarities and a handful of standards that de Haas makes his own: an "A Train" with wailing sax is joyous and infectious; a "Satin Doll" replete with walking bass is sly and smooth. One word of warning: the shifting moods can, on first listen, be a bit jarring, even as you admire the achievement; but by second and third listen, you're likely to be entranced by the variety and to luxuriate in the artistry. I haven't heard a more satisfying album this year.

                                             Jazz Round Midnight

                           Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn Songbook

                                                     1992

Jazz Round Midnight: Ellington/Strayhorn Songbook was released in 1992 on the Verve label. Includes liner notes by Laurent Cugny. Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Diz Disley, Hy White, Ike Isaacs , René Thomas (guitar); Stéphane Grappelli (violin); Ernie Watts, Hilton Jefferson, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Criss (alto saxophone); Rudy Williams , Jerry Jerome, Stan Getz , Ben Webster, Arthur "Babe"Clarke (tenor saxophone); Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone); Emmett Berry, Harold Baker (trumpet); Joe Thomas , Lawrence Brown , Tyree Glenn (trombone); Georges Arvanitas, Jimmy Rowles, Kenny Barron, Alan Broadbent, Leroy Lovett, Monty Alexander, Oscar Peterson, Ray Bryant, Bernie Leighton, Earl Hines (piano); Ed Thigpen, Gus Wallez, Al Walker, Lee Abrams, Philippe Combelle, Louie Bellson, Mel Lewis, Victor Lewis, Billy Higgins (drums). 

 

The Music of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

Vinnie Cutro

2010

 

Vinnie Cutro has carved out a successful career as a jazz trumpeter on the New York scene that has included prominent stints with the Lionel Hampton and Horace Silver bands. “The Music of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn,”  is a collection of duos with his longtime collaborator, pianist Mitch Schechter. Chelsea Bridge, Daydream, Lush Life and Star Crossed Lovers are a few of the classics on this CD.

                                                                      Sugar Hiil

                   The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

                                                              

This is a tight little 2007 quartet date led by saxophonist Javon Jackson, celebrating the music of the Duke and Billy Strayhorn. Musicians on the session are arranger/pianist David Hazeltine, drummer Tony Reedus, and bassist Paul Gill. "Chelsea Bridge," and "Lotus Blossom," are the 2 Strayhorn written tunes on this CD. The emphasis here is on the bluesier and moodier side of Ellington's music, which works beautifully. Jackson and Hazeltine as front line soloist are more than up to the challenge. This is a fine session and lyrically beautiful all around. 

 

 

 

                                         Moscow at 3 A.M.

                                      Igor Butman Big Band

                                                 2009

 

The band’s version of Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Take the ‘A’ Train” starts with a sparse, but swinging solo from Anton Baronin on piano, and has a flute/trumpet soli before the trombones bring in the rhythmically-altered melody. Special guest Wynton Marsalis returns to his comfort zone with an old-school trumpet solo on the tune made famous by Duke Ellington. It does fit the qualifications for a swingin’ version.

                          Johnny Hodges w/ Billy Strayhorn & the Orchestra

                                                              1999

 All Music Guide  - Ken Dryden                            

"Alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges recorded frequently for Verve in the 1950s and 1960s, although nearly all of the musicians on this CD are from the Ellington orchestra and the arrangements are by Billy Strayhorn. Hodges is never less than superb throughout this reissue, while Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney and non-Ellingtonians Howard McGhee on trumpet and pianist Jimmy Jones also deserve praise. Strayhorn's exotic chart of "Azure" and emotional scoring of "Your Love Has Faded" are especially striking". Originally recorded in 1961

                                                  The Jazz Scene

                                   Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn & Others

                                                         1994

“The Jazz Scene,” was released originally in 1949 in a limited-edition package of six 12-inch 78 rpm discs printed on vinyl. It was the brainchild of Norman Granz, the producer of the “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concerts, and was recorded in bits and pieces on two coasts (New York and Los Angeles) over a three-year period (1946 to 1949). 

Featuring Duke Ellington’s “Sono” and “Frustration", Duke Ellington himself was under contract to Columbia and therefore not available to Granz, so Granz represented the Ellington sound world by backing Duke’s baritone saxophonist, Harry Carney, with a rhythm section — Billy Strayhorn, piano; Fred Guy, guitar; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Sonny Greer, drums — and a string quartet.  The best tracks on the bonus disc are two piano solos by Billy Strayhorn — one of which, “Halfway to Dawn,” is heard in two takes. along with a recording of “Tailspin.” 

                                Ghost of a Chance - The Yale Alley Cats

                                                         2009 

It was during a fall night in 1943 that four Yale undergraduates climbed to the top of Saybrook Tower and began to sing Henry Carey's 18th-century ballad "Sally in Our Alley." Their rendition awoke the College Master, who ran to the base of the tower and commanded them to descend and go back to bed. The young men relented, but not before laying the foundation of a group that would continue to this day. The Yale Alley Cats, an a capella choir of 14 members, is made up of Yale freshman, sophomores and juniors. The group's stylish renditions of a wide range of popular classics in "close harmony" style are an absolute delight to hear. Includes a medley of 'Take the A Train/Lush Life".

                                A Billy Strayhorn Songbook- John Hicks

                                            Something to Live For

                                                      1998

John Hicks and Billy Strayhorn prove to be an ideal match on this outstanding High Note release, Something to Live For: A Billy Strayhorn Songbook. For years Hicks has enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest and most versatile pianists in New York. Known mostly as an explosive, adventurous player in the mode of McCoy Tyner, he shows his softer side here, tackling the lush romanticism of Strayhorn's timeless compositions with an appropriately light touch and sense of nuance. Personnel: John Hicks (piano); Cecil Brooks III (drums) ; Dwayne Dolphin (bass); Jazz Times said, "...a fine stroll through familiar Strayhorn terrain that pays substantial dividends. The gems include the heavy 'Blood Count'...'Daydream,' 'Chelsea Bridge,' and the exquisite 'A Flower is a Lovesome Thing'..."

                                                   Alan Barnes Octet

                    Harlem Airshaft The Music of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

                                                          2008

This is classic Ellington swing from an expert octet led by the UK's multi-reeds star Alan Barnes, featuring the trumpeter Bruce Adams, bassist Alec Dankworth and pianist John Horler and tenor saxist Tony Coe. Tony Faulkner arranged this program, drawing on both famous and little-known material, and creating fresh collages of Ellington/Strayhorn melodies to act as shifting backdrops for the improvisers. "Snibor", "Fantazm", "Sunswept Sunday", "Battle Royal"and "Tonight I shall sleep(with a smile on my face)", are a few of the gems on this 12 song CD. 

                                                 Art Farmer

                                         Something To Live For

                                                       1991

The lyrical flügelhornist Art Farmer and his quintet (which consists of tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist James Williams, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith) interpret seven of Billy Strayhorn's compositions. Highlights include "Isfahan," "Johnny Come Lately," "Raincheck," and the title cut. Farmer brings the right combination of sensitivity, swing, respect for the melody, and creativity to these renditions and the results are quite memorable.

                                              Billy Strayhorn

                                              Cabu Collection

                                                     2001

 Of all the Cabu Collections issued by the Masters of Jazz label, this tribute to composer, arranger, pianist and bandleader Billy Strayhorn deserves highest commendations for sheer depth and artistic merit. This pleasantly scrambled 40-track assortment admirably addresses many of his greatest compositions, a few of his better arrangements, and a handful of memorable improvisations, all recorded within a time line  between June 1939 and November 1948. The Duke Ellington Orchestra is most  heavily featured, with examples from the Barney Bigard and Johnny  Hodges All-Stars and the Billy Strayhorn Trio and Septet. Even amidst so much excellent ensemble jazz, the most magical moments occur during "Halfway to Dawn" and "Tailspin," performed as piano solos by Strayhorn. 

                               Billy Strayhorn-Lush Life

                     Jamey Aebersold Jazz Play Along Series

                                                1999

Intermediate. Billy Strayhorn is one of the best-loved, yet underrated composers of jazz. His famous collaborations with and for The Duke Ellington Band have become some of jazz's most enduring standards. You can discover for yourself Strayhorn's unique and beautiful style. Discover why Ellington felt such an affinity for this man's compositions.

                                            Cedar Walton Trio plays Billy Strayhorn

                                                                     2009

Contains an outstanding studio session by the Cedar Walton Trio, featuring the legendary Billy Higgins on drums.  As a bonus, three more trio tracks recorded live in Baltimore, and two extra songs from the Plays Strayhorn session, on which Clifford Jordan joins the trio on sax. Jazz Ball Records.

                                            Cue for Saxophone

                                            Billy Strayhorn’s Septet

                                                        1991 

Billy Strayhorn led surprisingly few sessions throughout his career, and this was only his second full-length album. The main star is altoist Johnny Hodges (who goes here under the pseudonym of "Cue Porter"), while Strayhorn plays piano on the seven songs. Strayhorn co-wrote two tunes ("Cue's Blue Now" and "Watch Your Cue") with Hodges. Also in the septet are three fellow Ellingtonians, (trumpeter Shorty Baker, trombonist Quentin Jackson and clarinetist Russell Procope), along with bassist Al Hall and drummer Oliver Jackson. The results are a fine session (which has been reissued from its 1959 original release) with highlights including "Gone With the Wind," the ten-minute "Cue's Blue Now" and "Rose Room."

                                                Elvis Costello

                                    Live with the Metropole Orkest

                                         My Flame Burns Blue

                                                       2006

 Elvis Costello takes the occasion of his first official live release (recorded with the 52-piece Metropole Orkest at The Hague's North Sea Jazz Festival in 2004) to not only recap the various non-rock/pop genres the veteran singer-songwriter has explored in recent years, but recast a few of his songbook favorites in striking new musical arrangements as well. The widow of Charles Mingus commissioned Costello to pen lyrics for the rousing revamp of the jazz legend's "Hora Decubitus" that anchors the album, a task he also performs for the bluesy title track, a reworking of Billy Strayhorn's final composition "Blood Count."

                                                                      Gene DiNovi

                                         Plays Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn Live

                                                                     2003

Brooklyn-born pianist Gene DiNovi has been considered a legend of the Canadian jazz scene for the last three decades. In the past ten years, his fame has increasingly grown in Japan and Europe. This CD at last captured his annual Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn celebration in late April with equally legendary bassist Dave Young. Although DiNovi has been recording since 1945 as sideman to such jazz giants as Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Ben Webster, and Buddy DeFranco, he has been best known as Lena Horne's accompanist (also recorded with Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee and Carmen McRae) in the U.S. This, his 15th album as a leader (or co-leader) is dedicated to Lena Horne.

 

                                          Great American Songwriters, Volume 5:

                                      Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

                                                              1994

 

"Rhino's Great American Songwriters, Vol. 5 celebrates the work of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, collecting interpretations of their songs by pop and vocal jazz stars like Sarah Vaughn, Harry James,  Chris Connor, Dinah Washington, and June Christy. Billy Eckstine's "Sophisticated Lady," Joe Mooney's "Lush Life," Joe Carroll's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," and Mel Torme's "Take the 'A' Train" are among the standout renditions of Ellington/Strayhorn  standards included here, along with Cleo Laine's "Mood Indigo" and Nancy Wilson's "Satin Doll." Performances by Vic Damone, Sylvia Syms, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong make this collection a who's-who of 20th century pop and vocal jazz, as well as a must for fans of those styles."  Heather Phares, writer- All Music Guide 

                                          Passion Flower; Fred Hersch plays Billy Strayhorn     

                                                                    1996  

Passion Flower, a tribute album to composer Billy Strayhorn which Hersch produced, arranged, and orchestrated, received universal critical praise upon its release. “Elegantly arranged for jazz trio and strings," said the New York Times, the album "exudes an exotic hothouse aroma.” Jazziz called Hersch's renditions of Strayhorn's songs "stunning in their understated wealth and wry, bittersweet wit, as were the originals.” The Cincinnati Inquirer added: “Like Mr. Strayhorn’s compositions, Mr. Hersch’s execution transcends jazz. This is simply beautiful music.”                              

                                         Ron Gill; The Songs of Billy Strayhorn

                                                                 1998

Vocalist Ron Gill has been on the Boston jazz scene for more than 30 years. He has also toured with the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by Mercer Ellington. Gill has a special affinity for the music of Billy Strayhorn, which comes through immediately upon hearing the opening measures of the first cut on this CD "Grievin." This CD presents a unique opportunity to hear Strayhorn works that didn't get much play. In addition to "Grievin'," there's a lovely "Multicolored Blue" (aka "Violet Blue"), a song he wrote during his first decade as a composer. One of the more compelling tracks is "Lush Life," where Gill does the first chorus a cappella before the mournful sax of Bill Thompson comes in. Like much of the Strayhorn song book, "Lush Life" is not an easy song to sing. But Gill, with an aptitude to capture and convey that special essence of Strayhorn's musical genius, has no problem with it at all. Other notable tracks include "Day Dream", one of the first songs Strayhorn composed in New York. The sterling group of musicians who back the singer get a change to perform as a unit on "Intimacy of the Blues," where Gill sits out. 

                                            Strayhorn; A Mitchell-Ruff Interpretation

                                                          Reissued 2004

 

In celebration of its 50th Anniversary of music making, pianist Dwike Mitchell and french horn player Willie Ruff  have reissued its historic Billy Strayhorn recording, "Strayhorn: A Mitchell-Ruff Interpretation."  Included on this recording is the very last work composed by Billy Strayhorn, The Suite for the Duo. This is a seriously reflective and autobiographical work, written as this jazz giant was coming to the end of his lifetime. The other Strayhorn compositions on the recording interpretively reflect the shading and influence of the gravity of the piece. Duke Ellington, himself, chose the Duo to perform the work at the Lincoln Center Memorial for Billy Strayhorn, alongside a director's dream of jazz greats, such as Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Willie the Lion Smith, Dizzy Gillespie and many others.

                                The Harlem Quartet plays the music of Wynton Marsalis,

                                                Billy Strayhorn and more...

                                                               2007

The debut recording from the Harlem Quartet, this recording features the music of Wynton Marsalis, Billy Strayhorn, and others. This is music that tells a story, from the life of a slave in the Deep South to a conga line working its way through the streets of Havana. The title track is a popular jazz standard heard here in a fresh new arrangement. Each piece offers something beyond the usual string quartet music, something to bring in new listeners to this time-honored musical ensemble. The Harlem Quartet is a part of the Sphinx Organization, whose mission is to increase the participation of black and Latino players and audiences in classical music. This is fresh music from dynamic young performers.

                                                 Harry Allen/Keith Ingham

                 Intimacy of the Blues. A Celebration of Billy Strayhorns music Volume 2

                                                            1994

 Pianist/arranger Keith Ingham teams up in various combinations with tenor saxophonist Harry Allen,  guitarist Chris Flory, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Chuck Riggs to perform 16 Billy Strayhorn selections. Some of these tunes ("Jazz Festival Jazz," "Balcony Serenade," "After All," "Snibor" and "Midriff") had not been played much at the time of the recordings. Somehow the quintet manages to convey the power of the Duke Ellington Orchestra on this tribute. 

                           The Johnny Hodges All-Stars with the Duke Ellington All-Stars

                                       and the Billy Strayhorn All Stars

                                            CD Release 1992

 

This CD, which reissues all of the music from a double-LP, has a variety of formerly rare sessions from 1947-51. Johnny Hodges gets top billing, and he leads three sessions from 1947 (featuring among others trombonist Lawrence Brown, tenorman Al Sears and baritone sax man Harry Carney. Hodges is actually absent on the second half of the CD, with Billy Strayhorn and/or Duke Ellington as leader and Willie Smith on alto sax. These performances range in personnel from a three-trombone septet to a version of "Caravan" with Ellington on piano and Strayhorn making a rare appearance on organ. 

                      Tribute to Billy Strayhorn-Toshiko Akiyoshi     1978

 This album features pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi interpreting eight Billy Strayhorn compositions. Five songs feature her joined by bassist John Heard and drummer Peter Donald. The remaining three tunes utilize bassist Bob Daugherty and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Highlights include "Take the 'A' Train," "Rain Check" and "Intimacy of the Blues." 

VOL.1 MUSIC BY BILLY STRAYHORN      2000

Trio65

Ehud Asherie (piano) Joseph Lepore (bass) Tommaso Cappellato (drums)

Trio65 was formed in January 2000. Performing regularly at the Rainbow Room, located on the 65th floor of Manhattan's legendary Rockefeller Center, together pianist Ehud Asherie, double-bassist Joseph Lepore and on drums Tommaso Cappellato, display a repertoire which ranges from jazz standards, a wide variety of Broadway shoe pieces to be-bop tunes including some originals. Through performance, Trio65 develops new arrangements by exploring the music of composers such as Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Fats Waller, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk and Bud Powell. The work of this ensemble is directly connected to the traditions of the great masters of improvised music. The various influences of Trio65, as well as the individual styles of each of three musicians making up the group, lend to a classic yet innovative sound.

 

                                        Dorthy Doring and Phil Mattson

                            Compositions by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

                                                             2013 

Vocalist Dorothy Doring and pianist and arranger Phil Mattson are seasoned performers and music educators who are always working and improving their craft while continuing to perform with great passion and technique. Their beautiful duo CD project gives tribute to the great Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Their arrangements and musical interpretations are creative, original and command attention for the serious listener of jazz and cabaret. Their artistic collaboration is one of respect and trust. Their joy for the art of performance is evident on all eleven tracks on this stunning recording.

         Christian Winther-Two People: The Music of Billy Strayhorn   2013

Since moving to New Orleans in 1997 to study jazz at the University of New Orleans, saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Christian Winther has shared stages with a broad cross-section of mostly modern musicians. Winther and pianist Richard D. Johnson have formed a duo, Two People, to perform the music of noted jazz composers. The first composer to receive the Two People treatment is Billy Strayhorn. On the new CD “Two People: The Music of Billy Strayhorn,” Winther and Johnson remake “Take the A Train,” “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” “Johnny Come Lately,” “Satin Doll” and other Strayhorn compositions as piano and tenor sax ruminations. 

        La Rumba is a Lovesome Thing; A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn; Paul Carlon     2013

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. 

                                              

          Tchaikovsky (arr. Ellington, Strayhorn) The Nutcracker Suite            2013

          Harmonie Ensemble New York, Steven Richman (conductor)

 

Reviving the art of 'swinging the classics', Steven Richman and the Harmonie Ensemble/New York present two different versions of the beloved Nutcracker Suite side by side on the same album for the first time: the Tchaikovsky original of 1892, followed by the 1960 jazz remake masterminded by the American dream team of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. A sense of the different flavours of these two divergent versions can be gleaned from the titles of each movment: Overture, Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Dance of the Reed-Pipes), Peanut Brittle Brigade (March), Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy), Entr'acte, Volga Vouty (Russian Dance), Chinoiserie (Chinese Dance), Dance of the Floreadores (Waltz of the Flowers), Arabesque Cookie (Arabian Dance). Compare, contrast and enjoy!

 

                                  The Man Behind          2013

                            A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn

Vocalist Thomas De Lates, accompanied by The Andy Lutter trio, sings several Strayhorn classics along with 2 Lates compositions, "Swee Pea" and the title track. Song List: My flame Burns Blue-Take the A Train-Something to Live For-Rain Check-Passion Flower-Tonk-Lush Life-Satin Doll-Chelsea Bridge-A Flower is a Lovesome Thing-Lotus Blossom.

Absinthe, The Music of Billy Strayhorn.                         2014

Joe LoCascio and Woody Witt.

Absinithe, the latest effort by pianist Joe LoCascio and saxophonist Woody Witt,  features music by Billy Strayhorn. 

"LoCascio and Witt produce an intuitive rapport as they articulate their interpretation of Strayhorn's music. They make cuts smooth and graceful like in "Daydream" and take on a narrative voice in "My Little Brown Book" as the saxophone and keys cultivate a contemplative mood. Loaded with substance, each track expresses private thoughts like the jolly vibe of "Charpoy" and the introspective feel of "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing" and "Lotus Blossom," contrasting the malleable bursts of energy etched along "Rain Check" with a shuffling rhythm in its carriage. Classic compositions in their own right, the music of Billy Strayhorn becomes an exercise in discovering uncharted chordal patterns and exploring avenues which have never been treaded on previously.  Absinthe reveres the works of Strayhorn as well as the composer's ability to be a musician's mentor for generations to come". (Written by Susan Frances, Yahoo Network Contributor). 

                   Billy Strayhorn: Out Of The Shadows, Storyville Records       2014


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. 

Tony Bennett-Lady Gaga, "Cheek To Cheek"     2014

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

The Jax Jazz Collective. Lotus Blossom: The Music of Billy Strayhorn.      2014

The Jax (short for Jacksonville) Jazz Collective, under the leadership of pianist Joshua Bowlus, offers up Strayhorn in a small group outing with Lotus Blossom: The Music Of Billy Strayhorn. The group—two saxophones, one trumpet and the rhythm section—modernizes the classic Ellington/Strayhorn sound. Lotus Blossom: The Music of Billy Strayhorn, by the top notch Jax Jazz Collective, shines a bright light on new facets on the Billy Strayhorn songbook.

Track Listing: Take the 'A' Train' Isfahan; Raincheck; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Johnny Come Lately; Upper Manhattan Medical Group; The Intimacy Of The Blues; Lotus Blossom.

Personnel: Mike Emmert: alto saxophone; Juan Rollan: tenor saxophone; Ray Callender: trumpet (1, 5, 6, 8); Alphonso Horne: trumpet (2, 3, 4, 7); Josua Bowlus: piano, Fender rhodes; John 'Lil John" Lumpkin: drums; Stan Piper: bass.

Five Plus Six: Such Sweet Thunder.                      2015

Led by Knoxville Jazz Orchestra founder/director Vance Thompson, this album pays homage to jazz legends Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Thelonious Monk while also blending in completely divergent genre tracks such as country music icon Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow.” The 11-piece band merges Thompson’s principal quintet with six additional horns. The quintet includes Thompson on the trumpet, Greg Tardy on the tenor saxophone, Keith Brown on the piano, Taylor Coker playing the bass and Nolan Nevels on the drums.

”Isfahan” is the album’s second track. This Billy Strayhorn composition is reimagined with a blues vibe as Thompson’s trumpet, Tardy’s tenor sax and Coker’s bass play create a cool rhythm. 

The title track is the album’s fifth track and the band’s version of the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn 1957 suite. Yet, their rendition has an unmistakably ethnic tone in the form of an Afro-Cuban vibe, but it then seamlessly flows into a traditional yet equally danceable swing beat.  repetitive intro of Thompson’s trumpet mixed with Coker’s bass is enthralling and with Nevels’ drum work in the background listeners could envision this track playing at a club where the dance floor is full. 

“Prelude to a Kiss” is the album’s sixth track. Such Sweet Thunder from Five Plus Six includes tracks a true jazz music aficionado will adore while also catering to those outside the genre looking to add some variety and a touch of spice to their musical library.

Billy Strayhorn Day Dream: Complete 1945-1961 Sessions As A Leader

                                                 2015

The great Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), jazz composer, pianist, lyricist, and arranger, was best known for his successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington, which lasted nearly three decades. This release presents the first two albums Strayhorn issued under his own name (out of just three): "Cue for Saxophone" and "The Peaceful Side". In addition, this set contains all of Strayhorn's other sides as a leader up to 1961, including amazing piano duets with Duke Ellington, three rare unaccompanied solo selections, and various small group performances. Strayhorn's best compositions include “Take the ‘A' Train”, “Chelsea Bridge”, “Passion Flower”, “Day Dream”, and “Lush Life”, all of which are present here. The Lush Life track is featured both in a 1961 instrumental version, and in a vocal/piano duet by Kay Davis and Strayhorn recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1948.

                   Darby Williams: ME                                                                             2015                          

Darby Williams captures the essence and the nuances of perhaps the greatest collaborators in jazz history – Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. With her debut album Me, such titles as “Lush Life,” “Mood Indigo,” and “Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me”, echo the sweltering notes and delicate compositions of this illustrious partnership. Darby’s interpretation of their compositions is both thoughtful and intoxicating. The delicate nature of her phrasing, and obvious feel for American Songbook material is immediately evident. The single, "No One Knows", written by Billy Strayhorn, features Darby with two-time Grammy Award winner Peabo Bryson in a soulful duet, that is sure to keep your foot tapping. 

Kenny Peagler: 100 Years of Strayhorn                                                             2015

His new album, 100 Years of Strayhorn, is an enamoring solo piano work that showcases a significant musical talent. “This album, 100 Years of Strayhorn, is a celebration of Billy Strayhorn’s 100th birthday that contains my arrangements of some of my favorite Billy Strayhorn works in a wonderful tribute to a musical legend, as well as one of Pittsburgh’s most lasting contributions to contemporary music history.”

As a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kenny experienced childhood in a city with a strong jazz heritage, culture, and the origin of numerous influential jazz artists such as Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, Mary Lou Williams, and Billy Strayhorn. Like many pianist, Kenny studied and performed classical works at a young age. While a student of the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, he began studying the language of jazz. Shortly thereafter, Kenny landed a position as the pianist and organist for a church. Playing both genres helped advance his ear for music, develop his harmonic palette, and demonstrated to him first hand the power that music can have in connecting the performer with the audience and the audience with each other.

                         Jacob Roved: Remembering Billy Strayhorn                    2015

Remembering Billy Strayhron is Danish drummer Jacob Roved's tribute to Strayhorn and it is an album filled with sophisticated and swinging music. Also playing on this Strayhorn tribute are trumpeter Thomas Fryland, bassist Jesper Bodilson, pianist Rasmus Ehlers and saxophonist John Ruocco.

Lovesome: Nancy Valentine sings the music of Billy Strayhorn          2016


Nancy Valentine's 2016 release treats us to an entire CD of a dozen of Strayhorn’s songs. 
Although every one of these songs was composed between 50 and 80 years ago, in the hands of Nancy and the musicians they sound as if they were written today. From the tongue-in-cheek, "You Better Know It", to the romantic, "Pretty Girl" (aka: The Star-Crossed Lovers) and the heartbreaking life-and-death struggle of, "My Flame Burns Blue" (aka: Blood Count), each song has its own unique well-drawn character with challenging melodic contours and chromatic harmonies. The album showcases Billy Strayhorn for his musical sophistication in every way. 

Planet D Nonet: A Salute To Strayhorn         2016

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.

Peter Madsen: Satin Doll: A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn             2017

Peter Madsen, in the company of guitarist Oliver Rath, completely rearranges 10 Strayhorn masterpieces. In doing this, the pianist reveals both Strayhorn's genius and sense of humor, both which are in full display on several of the albums recordings. Madsen and Rath weave both gentle and loose intricate arrangements around Strayhorn's delicate melodies.

Track Listing: Satin Doll; Passion Flower; Day Dream; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Take the A Train; Johnny Come Lately; Blood Count; Chelsea Bridge; Isfahan; Lotus Blossom.

 

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