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Billy Strayhorn

If you are familiar with the jazz composition, "Take the A Train," then you know something about not only Duke Ellington, but also Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn, its composer. Strayhorn joined Ellington's band in 1939, at the age of twenty-two. Ellington liked what he saw in Billy and took this shy, talented pianist under his wings. Neither one was sure what Strayhorn's function in the band would be, but their musical talents had attracted each other. By the end of the year Strayhorn had become essential to the Duke Ellington Band; arranging, composing, sitting-in at the piano. Billy made a rapid and almost complete assimilation of Ellington's style and technique

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Adam Shulman Septet: West Meets East

Read "West Meets East" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The “west" here is represented by San Francisco-based pianist and group leader Adam Shulman, the “east" by the other half-dozen members of Shulman's impressive septet. Even though the reasons that led to the alliance are ambiguous, what matters is the payoff, and that is more than admirable from any vantage point. As if ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Bill Frisell: Valentine

Read "Valentine" reviewed by Ian Patterson

In an extraordinarily varied career Bill Frisell has made just a handful of trio recordings as leader, which is perhaps surprising given how frequently he performs in such a setting. In recent years the Baltimore-born, Denver-raised guitarist has toured two of his most empathetic trios, that with Kenny Wollesen and Tony Scherr and, latterly, with Rudy ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Denny Zeitlin: Live at Mezzrow

Read "Live at Mezzrow" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Pianist Denny Zeitlin appeared on his first recording in 1963, flautist Jeremy Steigs' Flute Fever (Columbia Records). He was in his third year at Johns Hopkins Medical School at the time, on a path to dual careers in psychiatry and eventually the teaching of that profession—vocations he continues with to this day. Add a ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Duo Baars-Buis: Moods For Roswell

Read "Moods For Roswell" reviewed by Mark Corroto

It is difficult to think of a better way of honoring the memory of trombonist Roswell Rudd than through the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Rudd (1935-2017), the eternal avant-gardist, maintained a firm foundation in the jazz tradition. Even when he was working in the New York Art Quartet or collaborating with Archie Shepp ...

ARTICLE: LIVE REVIEW

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2020

Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montréal  2020" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

2020 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Various Venues Montréal, Canada June 27-30, 2020 Above all else the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is a spectacular ten-day event: with around 2 million visitors and 500 concerts on 20 stages, it is ranked as the world's largest jazz ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Jazzagenturen: The Stockholm Corona Sessions Volume One

Read "The Stockholm Corona Sessions Volume One" reviewed by Jim Worsley

The Swedish jazz collective Jazzagenturen, founded by Pontus de Wolfe, reached deep into its collective soul and stood up to the downsides of the Covid-19 coronavirus early on. This large ensemble entered a studio on April 2nd. Twelve hours later they emerged having recorded fifty songs. The Stockholm Corona Sessions are being released in five volumes, ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Kansas Smitty's: Things Happened Here

Read "Things Happened Here" reviewed by Chris May

Kansas Smitty's is the house band at a London jazz bar of the same name. Band and bar are fronted by the American-Italian alto saxophonist, clarinetist and bass clarinetist Giacomo Smith, who with guitarist David Archer wrote most of the material on this album. The band's style embraces swing era Kansas City through to more recent ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Dinosaur: To The Earth

Read "To The Earth" reviewed by Ian Patterson

One of the flag bearers of contemporary British jazz, Dinosaur's rise to more international renown accelerated with its signing to Edition Records, and the subsequent release of Together, As One (2016) and Wondertrail. (2018). Formerly known as the Laura Jurd Quartet, the band had already been going since 2010, releasing one album, Landing Ground (Chaos Collective, ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Lara Driscoll: Woven Dreams

Read "Woven Dreams" reviewed by Jordan Penney

Woven Dreams is the debut album of pianist and Illinois-based university instructor, Lara Driscoll. The disc's uncluttered piano, bass and drums format encourages the clarity and luminosity of her compositions to shine forth, and they do. The format also draws attention to the richness of the group's internal dynamics. The influence of Bill Evans ...


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