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BILLY STRAYHORN

Billy Strayhorn was privileged to enjoy a classical musical education despite his disadvantaged childhood. While still in high school he wrote a revue that became a full-blown touring production starring the yet unknown Billy Eckstine.

In 1938 Strayhorn met Duke Ellington who immediately hired him. The following year they recorded their first collaboration, “Something to Live For,” with Strayhorn on piano. In 1941, following Duke’s written subway directions to his house, Strayhorn composed and wrote the lyrics to “Take the A Train” which became the band’s theme song. He worked as arranger, composer and second pianist for Ellington until his death, which left Ellington devastated. Their telepathic relationship makes it difficult to decipher where one begins and the other ends in their collaborations. “Swee’ Pea,” as Ellington called him, thrived in the Duke’s shadow where he found the security to vent his musical gifts and cultivate his artistic interests.

While still in his teens Strayhorn composed “Lush Life,” a sophisticated work with mature, world-weary lyrics. He played it for friends but did not publish it until 1949. Among Strayhorn’s other gems are “Chelsea Bridge” (1941), “Rain Check” (1942), “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” (1944), and “Lotus Blossom” (1947). His collaborations with Ellington produced “Day Dream” (1941), “Something to Live For” (1939), “Satin Doll” (1958) and many larger works.

Strayhorn participated in the civil rights movement, making a 1963 trip to a large NAACP rally in the South with his good friend Lena Horne. When Ellington was honored at the White House on his 70th birthday in 1969, he read Billy’s four articles of moral freedom to the embarrassment of President Nixon.

Strayhorn continued to write while hospitalized and turned out “UMMG” and a work which Ellington recorded as “Blood Count” in his 1967 tribute album to Strayhorn, And His Mother Called Him Bill.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of JazzStandards.com


Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
View by Role: Classical Artist | Non-Classical Artist | Classical Composer | Non-Classical Composer | Lyricist | Arranger
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 

Role: Non-Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
WEBSTER, Ben: Music for Loving (1954) Naxos Jazz Archives
9.81158JZ
Jazz

Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 

Role: Non-Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
129TH ARMY BAND: 129th Army Band Altissimo
75442261232
Contemporary Jazz
ALLEN, Jackie: Which? Naxos Jazz
86042-2
Contemporary Jazz
BRUBECK, Dave: Live in '64 and '66 (NTSC) Naxos
2.119005
Jazz DVD
ELLINGTON, Duke: Air Conditioned Jungle (1945) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 10) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120810
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Blue Abandon (1946) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 12) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120812
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Jam-A-Ditty (1946-1947) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 13) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120813
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Jump For Joy (1941-1942) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 8) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120743
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Love you Madly (1947-1953) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 14) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120814
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Time's A-Wastin' (1945-1946) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 11) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120811
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Tootin' Through the Roof (1939-1940) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 6) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120729
Jazz
JAZZ FOR YOU - CHILL WITH ELLINGTON (1932-1951) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120894
Jazz
JAZZ LEGENDS - Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller Naxos Jazz Legends
8.102002
Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
KENTON, Stan: MacGregor Transcriptions, Vol. 3 (1941-1943) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120684
Jazz
KRUSCHE, Martin: Friendship Pagoda Naxos Jazz
86057-2
Contemporary Jazz
MANY FACES OF NAXOS JAZZ Naxos Jazz
86040-2
Contemporary Jazz
MINGUS, Charles: Live in '64 (NTSC) Naxos
2.119006
Jazz DVD
Organ Recital: Wilson, Todd - BRAHMS, J. / TARTINI, G. / VAUGHAN WILLLIAMS, R. / PURVIS, R. / HARRIS, W. / BACH, J.S. / MOZART, W.A. Delos
DE3145
Instrumental
PETERSON, Oscar: Live in 63, '64 and '65 (NTSC) Naxos
2.119010
Jazz DVD
Remembering Duke Ellington Naxos
8.555017
Orchestral
ROWLES, Jimmy / ROWLES, Stacy: Looking Back Delos
DE4009
Contemporary Jazz
SVENSKA JAZZKLASSIKER (Swedish Jazz Classics) (1950-1951) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120868
Nostalgia
TEMPERLEY, Joe: Double Duke Naxos Jazz
86032-2
Contemporary Jazz
THEMES OF THE BIG BANDS: Let's Dance! (1934-1947) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120536
Jazz
THOSE WERE OUR SONGS - Hits from World War II Altissimo
75442255452
Contemporary Jazz
ULTIMATE BIG BAND COLLECTION (THE) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120861-62
Nostalgia
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Blues and Beyond Altissimo
75442260202
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Here Come the Airmen of Note Altissimo
75442253362
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Keep E'm Flying Altissimo
75442271102
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Legacy Altissimo
75442260672
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Somewhere Out There Altissimo
75442261212
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE BAND OF THE PACIFIC: Midnight Sun Altissimo
75442260412
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND (JAZZ AMBASSADORS): Best of Sammy Nestico (The) Altissimo
75442272132
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES NAVY COMMODORES JAZZ Ensemble: 75th Anniversary Collection, Vol. 3 (1969-2000) Altissimo
75442261272
Contemporary Jazz
Vocal Recital: Mattila, Karita - PORTER, C. / RODGERS, R. / HART, L / COOLEY, E. / SILVA, J. / JOBIM, A. / ARLEN, H. / GERSHWIN, G. / KERN, J. Ondine
ODE1105-2
Contemporary Jazz
WE CAN DO IT! - Celebrating Women in WWII Altissimo
75442272022
Contemporary Jazz
WEBSTER, Ben: Music with Feeling…Ben Webster with Strings Naxos Jazz Archives
9.81155JZ
Jazz
WILLIAMS, Joe: Joe Williams and Friends, June 1985 - I Just Want To Sing Delos
DE4004
Contemporary Jazz

Role: Lyricist 
Album Title  Catalogue No  Work Category 

Role: Arranger 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
WEBSTER, Ben: Music for Loving (1954) Naxos Jazz Archives
9.81158JZ
Jazz





 
 
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