Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
skeith

Billy Strayhorn

46 posts in this topic

Billy was NOT ABLE to "accomplish much without duke" and that is my point. He might have died alone in PA.

If you are saying that if Duke hadn't hired him, he wouldn't have accomplished much and might have died alone in PA, well, that's impossible to dispute. Obviously no one would know him if Duke hadn't hired him.

The bigger question is, what would the Ellington-Strayhorn songs sound like if Duke hadn't hired him? Obviously we would still celebrate Duke - but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't celebrate Strayhorn as well.

Strayhorn is fine and I celebrate him.

Ellington's reputation was established earlier.

But its not as if Ellington's reputation iis based solely on that pre-collaboration period.

It was for me.

So Chuck, are you saying that you find Ellington's work with Strayhorn to be inferior to Ellington's work without him?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ellington's reputation was established earlier.

Ellington did some great things after Strayhorn's passing, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

About Strayhorn: First, we need to straighten out what Duke composed on his own, what Strayhorn composed for the Ellington band on his own (a whole lot more than used to be thought; on this, see Walter van de Leur's authoritative "Something To Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn," not Hajdu's bio, which is however good on the man), and what they did together and how they collaborated (again, see Van de Leur, who makes it very clear that Ellington and Strayhorn's musical habits/fingerprints were quite different). As for Strayhorn's stature on his own, as much as I admire his music, I'll always have a problem with "on his own" because as different as his methods might have been from Duke's, he essentially used Duke's "instrument" (i.e. the Ellington band) and was shaped to a great degree in his musical thinking by its pre-existing, continuing presence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Strayhorn's work gave Ellington a more "popular" slant, is one way to perceive a difference in Duke's music before 1939 and after. There's a general sense that Strayhorn was taken by the realm of Gershwin, Porter, etc. and wanted to "compete" with that world: Take the A Train; Satin Doll. Not that "Mood Indigo" wasn't a pop worthy melody, and surely there are other early examples. Yet the great writing Ellington did before 1939 was oriented towards the band members and the ensemble. Ellington established himself as a greater jazz composer than Morton before Strayhorn came on.

The issues are far more complicated than that but that is one very general area where there's a perceived difference in composerly intention.

Edited by Lazaro Vega

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like both Strayton and Ellinghorn. A lot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

About Strayhorn: First, we need to straighten out what Duke composed on his own, what Strayhorn composed for the Ellington band on his own (a whole lot more than used to be thought; on this, see Walter van de Leur's authoritative "Something To Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn," not Hajdu's bio, which is however good on the man), and what they did together and how they collaborated (again, see Van de Leur, who makes it very clear that Ellington and Strayhorn's musical habits/fingerprints were quite different). As for Strayhorn's stature on his own, as much as I admire his music, I'll always have a problem with "on his own" because as different as his methods might have been from Duke's, he essentially used Duke's "instrument" (i.e. the Ellington band) and was shaped to a great degree in his musical thinking by its pre-existing, continuing presence.

I take it Larry that you don't think much of the Hajdu bio, at least as far as the music goes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I were a Strayhorn scholar myself (I'm not), I might have been a bit suspicious of that aspect of Hajdu's bio anyway before I read Van de Leur's book (and I did read Hajdu first), because I recall thinking that Hajdu's approach to the music in general and to the clearly tricky question of attribution seemed rather superficical, if that's the right word. But when I did read Van de Leur, whatever doubts I might have had while I read Hajdu certainly crystallized. On the other hand, Hajdu's focus as I recall was more on Strayhorn the man and his milieu, and my recollection is that he was quite good there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Larry's right--read Hadju for the life story, and van de Leur for the music (wasn't van de Leur at least partly behind some of those "lost-Strayhorn" CDs put out by the Dutch Jazz Orchestra? I have only the first one, but some beautiful music there). FWIW the two authors seem to have had a friendly, mutually-supportive relationship; in fact, I think van de Leur even says much the same as me & Larry in his introduction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Larry's right--read Hadju for the life story, and van de Leur for the music (wasn't van de Leur at least partly behind some of those "lost-Strayhorn" CDs put out by the Dutch Jazz Orchestra? I have only the first one, but some beautiful music there). FWIW the two authors seem to have had a friendly, mutually-supportive relationship; in fact, I think van de Leur even says much the same as me & Larry in his introduction.

Yes, Van de Leur did play a major role in those Dutch Jazz Orchestra Strayhorn albums, which are excellent.

In fact, the way the DJO plays that music shows up almost every American big band I've heard that tries to take on a re-creative role (that is, work in a prior muscial style).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love all three of those cds. . . excellent music and excellent renditions and excellent recorded sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could there have been a worse choice to contribute lyrics and a vocal to "Blood Count" than Elvis Costello?

Oh well, Duke often had a preference for odd male vocalists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could there have been a worse choice to contribute lyrics and a vocal to "Blood Count" than Elvis Costello?

Oh well, Duke often had a preference for odd male vocalists.

I quite like it. You're not a fan, I take it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could there have been a worse choice to contribute lyrics and a vocal to "Blood Count" than Elvis Costello?

Oh well, Duke often had a preference for odd male vocalists.

I quite like it. You're not a fan, I take it.

I must say, I thought that he did a great job singing an incredibly difficult melody! I was ready to hate it, but dammit, he did a good job! He nailed those intervals, not an easy task.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw this the other night on DVD while in northern lower Michigan with Root Doctor. An interesting documentary although it got a little too "presumptuous" at times with people assuming things about the relationship between Ellington and Strayhorn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to dig up a 3-year-old, but anyone interested in Duke and Strayhorn might also be interested in the interview I posted on my blog. It is Duke interviewing Stray—all in fun. An interesting private moment that say a lot about these great artists.

DukeStrayinterviewHEAD.jpg

Here is a direct link.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to dig up a 3-year-old, but anyone interested in Duke and Strayhorn might also be interested in the interview I posted on my blog. It is Duke interviewing Stray—all in fun. An interesting private moment that say a lot about these great artists.

DukeStrayinterviewHEAD.jpg

Here is a direct link.

Chris, doesn't this sound as if it's running too fast? The voices seem higher-pitched than I remember them. (Duke's at least -- never talked to Strayhorn).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for pointing that out, Ted. You are absolutely right and I have just slowed it down. I don't know if I got it right, but it sounds better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does this not exist any longer? I didn't listen to it when first on offer (it was irritatingly off speed), and now I can't find it... Chris :unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Billy Strayhorn, read "Lush Life," but haven't seen the PBS show. And incidentally, I am sitting in my house in Pittsburgh a few blocks from the Billy Strayhorn theater (and 2 blocks from Billy Eckstine's house). In terms of Ellington, I think Strayhorn was another instrument in the Duke's massive toolbox, and that doesn't take anything away from either of them. Ellington got a lot from a great many people, and there is no way Strayhorn had it in him to do what Ellington did. Ellington was Ellington without Billy Strayhorn. The same is not true for Strayhorn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Larry's right--read Hadju for the life story, and van de Leur for the music (wasn't van de Leur at least partly behind some of those "lost-Strayhorn" CDs put out by the Dutch Jazz Orchestra? I have only the first one, but some beautiful music there). FWIW the two authors seem to have had a friendly, mutually-supportive relationship; in fact, I think van de Leur even says much the same as me & Larry in his introduction.

I liked the Hajdu book but think he's not one to let nuance get in the way of a good story. Elllington certainly didn't try to hide Stayhorn's contributions. If you listen to almost any of the many concert recordings of the orchestra you'll hear Duke introducing every Strayhorn composition with a reference to its author.

Edited by medjuck

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.