255

Billy Strayhorn: Piano Passion

By

Sign in to view read count
During their nearly three decades of working together, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington created a legacy of music for the ages. This set offers a rare opportunity to hear Strayhorn the composer playing many of his own songs, as well as some he wrote with Ellington and others. Their partnership began in 1939 and ended only with the death of "Swee' Pea," as Strayhorn came to be fondly called by Ellington, at a mere 52 from cancer in 1967.

The first ten cuts in this collection, recorded in Paris during two midnight sessions in 1961, were originally released on an LP rather inexplicably called The Peaceful Side of Billy Strayhorn. To that set another eleven sides have been added here. Recorded at various dates in New York from 1946 and 1950, both Ellington and Strayhorn play the piano.

The 1961 sides are marked by simplicity and a vibrant emotional connection. Strayhorn's playing is not showy. It's an honest performance in which each note of his "Passion Flower or his and Ellington's "Strange Feeling are invested with soul. On three numbers, the Paris Blue Notes lend a dash of vocalese. If on "Lush Life their "aaaaaahs verge on the kitschy, on "Day Dream they deepen the reverie. "Lush Life also remains notable as a highly personal and courageous reference to gay life by Strayhorn.

The mood shifts dramatically with the first of the Strayhorn and Ellington duets, "Cottontail, a hop-hopping race across the keyboards to the accompaniment of Wendell Marshall's bass. The high spirits of their exchanges on "C-Jam Blues are complemented by the tenderness of their playing on "Flamingo, the set's only cover. Filled with brilliant, playful, intimate and thoughtful touches, this private party of giants is one we're fortunate indeed to be able to share.

Track Listing: Lush Life; Just A Sittin' And A Rockin'; Passion Flower; Take The A Train; Strange Feeling; Day Dream; Chelsea Bridge; Multi Colored Blue; Something To Live For; A Flower Is a Lonesome Thing; Cottontail; C Jam Blues; Flamingo; Bang-Up Blues; Tonk; Johnny Come Lately; In A Blue Summer Garden; Great Times; Tonk (Pianistically Allied); Drawing Room Blues; Tonk.

Personnel: Billy Strayhorn: piano; Michel Gaudry: bass (2,3,8-10); Paris String Quartet: strings (4,10); Paris Blue Notes: vocals (1,6,8); Duke Ellington: piano; Wendell Marshall: bass (11-14); Joe Shulman: bass (15-18).

Title: Piano Passion | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Storyville Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read LP1 Album Reviews
LP1
By Dan Bilawsky
June 17, 2019
Read The Garden Of Earthly Delights Album Reviews
The Garden Of Earthly Delights
By Friedrich Kunzmann
June 17, 2019
Read Groove Machine Album Reviews
Groove Machine
By Don Phipps
June 17, 2019
Read Life in the Modern World Album Reviews
Life in the Modern World
By Nicholas F. Mondello
June 17, 2019
Read Live at I.C.U.U. Album Reviews
Live at I.C.U.U.
By Karl Ackermann
June 16, 2019
Read 789 Miles Album Reviews
789 Miles
By David A. Orthmann
June 16, 2019
Read Follow Me Album Reviews
Follow Me
By Roger Farbey
June 16, 2019