157

Various Artists: Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life

By

Sign in to view read count
To most casual jazz fans Duke Ellington wrote some of the most enduring compositions in the history of American music. The ardent fan, however, acknowledges that many of the tunes attributed to the Duke were actually composed by or in collaboration with Billy Strayhorn.

Lush Life pays tribute to pianist/composer Strayhorn and his contribution to jazz via his timeless and brilliantly crafted songs. The CD features a stellar cast in a variety of settings that never sounds forced or premeditated in order to try and sell a boatload of records. The recording was produced to accompany a 2007 PBS documentary on Strayhorn, enriching the program and its subject by having the participants perform some of Strayhorns's signature pieces in a studio setting while offering up some unique interpretations.

The set kicks off with Bill Charlap's solo performance of a recently discovered piece, appropriately titled "Fantastic Rhythm." The quartet of tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Mraz and drummer Paul Motian perform on four tracks, the swinging "Rain Check" and "Chelsea Bridge" being amongst the highlights. Lovano's tenor really shines on "Chelsea Bridge," demonstrating why he is such a vital force in today's jazz world—a bridge between the rich traditions of the past and forward leaning improvisations that keep the music heading into the future.

Dianne Reeves sings on six of the fifteen tracks, and her sultry voice is an inspired choice. The title track is performed as a duo to wonderful effect with guitarist Russell Malone. He employs a Spanish-flavored intro, and accompanies Reeve's heartfelt vocal by weaving arpeggiated chords around Strayhorn's classic melody.

Hank Jones takes "Satin Doll" as a solo reading and adds some tension to the often-performed standard, thus keeping it from sounding like a pedestrian exercise. Jones also performs "Tonk" with Bill Charlap and the two make a heady sounding melody seem playful.

The world of Duke Ellington has been explored to a large degree. Focusing on Billy Strayhorn's legacy makes this an inspired recording, and the heavyweights that participated on this outing treat the music with revelry and respect.


Track Listing: Fantastic Rhythm; Rain Check; Lush Life; Satin Doll; Something To Live For; Johnny Come Lately; Day Dream; Tonk; Chelsea Bridge; My Little Brown Book; Valse; My Flame Burns Blue (Blood Count); The Flowers Die Of Love; Lotus Blossom; So This Is Love.

Personnel: Bill Charlap: piano (1,8,11,12); Elvis Costello: vocals (12); Greg Hutchinson: drums (5,7,10,15); Hank Jones: piano (2,4,6,8,9,14); Rodney Jones: guitar (7); Joe Lovano: tenor sax (2,6,9,12,14); Russell Malone: guitar (3); Peter Martin: piano (5,10,13,15); Paul Motian: drums (2,6,9,14); George Mraz: bass (2,6,9,14); Dianne Reeves: vocals (3,5,7,10,13,15); Reuben Rogers: bass (5,7,10,13,15).

Title: Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Roll On" CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Sweet Ruby Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Sweet Ruby Suite
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" CD/LP/Track Review For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "That's What She Said..." CD/LP/Track Review That's What She Said...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Luz de Luna" CD/LP/Track Review Luz de Luna
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play...
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 3, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.