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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: INTERVIEW

John Swana: Philly Gumbo

Read "John Swana: Philly Gumbo" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

From the 1995-2003 archive: This article first appeared at All About Jazz in June 2000. In addition to being one of the finest contemporary jazz trumpet players, John Swana is a human being who is spontaneously authentic and refuses to play a false role. Having reached the ripe old age of 38, John has ...

Composer Tributes: Strayhorn, Shorter, Monk and Sam Jones

Read "Composer Tributes: Strayhorn, Shorter, Monk and Sam Jones" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

There always seem to be albums coming out that pay tribute to accomplished jazz composers. Here are some newer ones, three on very familiar names and one on an often overlooked musician. John Di Martino Passion Flower: The Music of Billy Strayhorn Sunnyside Records 2020 Pianist John ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Laura Jurd: Getting Elemental

Read "Laura Jurd: Getting Elemental" reviewed by Chris May

Whatever other delights come along during 2020 in the way of great jazz albums, it is a near certainty that among the joint number ones will be To The Earth (Edition) by Dinosaur. Formed as the Laura Jurd Quartet in 2010 by students at London's Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and still led by ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Dave Glasser: Hypocrisy Democracy

Read "Hypocrisy Democracy" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Something of a socio-political scythe--a title and tool cutting straight into the failing system that surrounds us--Hypocrisy Democracy is also a broad statement detailing the ceaselessly looping fallibility of man and his actions. It's saxophonist Dave Glasser's most probing work to date, bound to both our present state of affairs and the history it mirrors, and ...

Trout Mask Replica

Read "Trout Mask Replica" reviewed by Eric Gudas

“No Instruction Sheet": Trout Mask Replica's Unfathomable Origin Story If you were a teenager who liked freaky stuff, on a June day in 1969 you could bicycle down to your local record store and buy a brand-new, shrink- wrapped album with a man covering his entire face with an actual fish head on the cover. A ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Streams of Influence Flowing into a River of Sound

Read "Vince Mendoza: Streams of Influence Flowing into a River of Sound" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Vince Mendoza is a jazz composer, arranger, and conductor of consummate originality, skill, and adaptability, so much so that he has for several decades received frequent invitations and commissions from the whole gamut of ensembles and performers like the WDR Big Band, the Metropole Orkest in the Netherlands, the Los Angeles and Berlin Philharmonic, and the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Dinosaur: To The Earth

Read "To The Earth" reviewed by Chris May

Britain's Edition label has remained independent of London's post-2015 alternative jazz scene, whose aesthetic is formed in part by the emphases of identity politics and which now, in 2020, has gone overground with the signing of three bands led by movement auteur Shabaka Hutchings to Impulse! in the US. Edition, which was founded in 2008 by ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

John di Martino: Passion Flower: The Music of Billy Strayhorn

Read "Passion Flower: The Music of Billy Strayhorn" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Composer / arranger Billy Strayhorn was barely twenty-three years old when he first met bandleader Duke Ellington, an encounter that would lead to a collaboration that lasted more than half of Strayhorn's life. During that time, Strayhorn wrote some of the Ellington orchestra's most acclaimed and enduring songs including “Lotus Blossom," “Chelsea Bridge," “Isfahan" and, most ...

AACM: Together We Are Stronger

Read "AACM: Together We Are Stronger" reviewed by Chris May

With the passing in 2017 of the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and trumpeter Phil Cohran, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, formed in Chicago in 1965, lost the last two of the four musicians who organised its inaugural meeting. But with two succeeding generations of standard bearers stepping up to the plate, the AACM ...


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