Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

493

Billy Strayhorn: The Peaceful Side

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
During his twenty-five year tenure with the Duke Ellington Orchestra as composer, lyricist, arranger, and Duke's closest musical confidante, Billy Strayhorn rarely performed in front of a live audience and even less frequently entered a recording studio. Although his piano playing can be heard on a handful of records with the Ellington Orchestra as well as on some of its members' side projects, most notably several dates with Johnny Hodges, Strayhorn made just one album as a featured solo artist. That album, the Peaceful Side of Billy Strayhorn recorded during two overnight sessions in Paris in January 1961, has recently been reissued in the original mono version on Capitol Jazz. It offers a unique opportunity to hear this brilliant composer's own takes on some of his best-known songs, including "Lush Life," "Take the A Train," and "Chelsea Bridge."

It was certainly not a lack of technique that kept Strayhorn from recording more often. A classically trained pianist, his playing here is exquisite, evoking the impressionism of Debussy almost as much as the driving jazz of Ellington. This is a quiet, spare recording featuring just Strayhorn's piano with occasional accompaniment by bass, string quartet, or vocal chorus. Strayhorn brings out all the passion and melancholy of his own compostions, which are performed in much more relaxed tempos than we are used to hearing. Even "'A' Train" is treated as a moody ballad. Other highlights include a gently swinging "Just A Sittin' and A Rockin,'" and an exquisite version of the haunting "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." It is a shame that Strayhorn did not record more, since he brought the same extraordinary musical intelligence and sophistication to his piano playing that he did to his composing.

Title: The Peaceful Side | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Capitol Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

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

Related Articles

Read Friendly Signs Album Reviews
Friendly Signs
By Don Phipps
February 22, 2019
Read The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes Album Reviews
The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes
By Roger Farbey
February 22, 2019
Read Free Fall Album Reviews
Free Fall
By Glenn Astarita
February 22, 2019
Read The Largo And The Lame Album Reviews
The Largo And The Lame
By Mark Corroto
February 22, 2019
Read Sun Of Goldfinger Album Reviews
Sun Of Goldfinger
By Dan McClenaghan
February 22, 2019
Read Paint The Sky Album Reviews
Paint The Sky
By Andrew J. Sammut
February 21, 2019
Read God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be Album Reviews
God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be
By Karl Ackermann
February 21, 2019