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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

WHO Trio: Strell - The Music of Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington

Read "Strell - The Music of Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington" reviewed by Alberto Bazzurro

Nel 2018 il Who Trio ha festeggiato vent'anni di attività, varando per l'occasione il progetto Strell, dedicato alla rilettura del repertorio di Billy Strayhorn e Duke Ellington, operazione certo non nuova--tutt'altro--e per la quale la prospettiva di rilettura, l'angolo visuale, diventa di conseguenza basilare. In questo album, inciso quasi per intero in studio a ...

ARTICLE: BAILEY'S BUNDLES

Harry Allen: Tenor Saxophone In The Time of COVID

Read "Harry Allen: Tenor Saxophone In The Time of COVID" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to any number of keen improvisations, each manifesting from the necessity of having to “quarantine in place." Tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, the “Frank Sinatra" of his instrument, thinks way outside the box--recording within the friendly confines of his own living room, while under health crisis house arrest. Good for you, ...

ARTICLE: YEAR IN REVIEW

Ian Patterson's Best Releases Of 2020

Read "Ian Patterson's Best Releases Of 2020" reviewed by Ian Patterson

A year like no other produced a terrific amount of great music, much of inspired by--or in spite of—the surreal circumstances. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite releases of the year. A huge thank you to all the musicians, record labels, studios, agents, promotors and virtual technicians who helped keep us relatively ...

ARTICLE: MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Ran Blake: Gray Moon, When Soft Rains Fall and Northern Noir

Read "Ran Blake: Gray Moon, When Soft Rains Fall and Northern Noir" reviewed by John Ephland

I'm a sucker for musical duets. Duets that make me feel like I'm in the same room with the two of them. Here we have three recent releases with the iconoclastic, legendary Ran Blake, now 83, in what is his most typical setting. Yes, to hear Blake paired up like this is to hear ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Uptown Jazz Tentet: What's Next

Read "What's Next" reviewed by Edward Blanco

New York-based trombonist Willie Applewhite birthed the idea of forming a new big band comprised of friends, and in 2016 The Uptown Jazz Tentet was established, co-led by trumpeter Brandon Lee and trombonist James Burton III. After playing to live audiences for several years, What's Next is the group's debut recording, and what an outing it ...

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Guaranteed To Bend Your Head

Read "Rahsaan Roland Kirk: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Guaranteed To Bend Your Head" reviewed by Chris May

Jazz musicians are rarely called shamanistic but the description fits Rahsaan Roland Kirk precisely. Clad in black leather trousers and heavy duty shades (he was blind from the age of two), a truckload of strange looking horns strung round his neck—two or three of which he often played simultaneously--twisting, shaking and otherwise contorting his body, stamping ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Horizons Jazz Orchestra: Plays the Music of Lee Harris: The Brite Side

Read "Plays the Music of Lee Harris: The Brite Side" reviewed by Jack Bowers

One question that springs to mind when listening to The Brite Side, a tantalizing new CD by the South Florida-based Horizons Jazz Orchestra, is: who is Lee Harris? As it turns out, Harris was a composer, arranger and baritone saxophonist who teamed with trumpeter Dennis Noday a few years back to co-found an ensemble they named ...

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 ...


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