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Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life - A Centenary Tribute, His 44 Finest



Taking New York’s “A” Train to Duke Ellington’s Harlem office inspired pianist-composer-arranger-lyricist Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) to create his most famous work, signalling the start of a 27 year-long collaboration with the Duke. With Lush Life Retrospective celebrates the centenary of this relatively unsung jazz genius, who notewriter Digby Fairweather describes as “one of jazz music’s most prodigious yet obscured talents”. This unique collection is drawn solely from the Ellington-Strayhorn recorded canon (apart from the ‘bonus extra’ of Nat King Cole’s interpretation of Lush Life), and covers every aspect of Strayhorn’s work as both pianist and composer. All his favourite, often botanically-flavoured, numbers are here – Passion Flower, Chelsea Bridge, Lotus Blossom, Raincheck, Johnny Come Lately etc. – some from both the full Ellington orchestra and his own solo piano. In fact there are 14 tracks from this most famous of all jazz orchestras, plus 14 either solo performances or Strayhorn-Ellington duets, plus 15 more that spotlight the inimitable alto saxophone artistry of Billy’s friend Johnny Hodges, who was the supreme interpreter of Strayhorn’s poetic music.

Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life - A Centenary Tribute, His 44 Finest


Strayhorn’s work for Ellington as composer, arranger and occasional pianist was simply immense but credit was not always given. Throughout, there is some great music. Let us rejoice in this collection of some of his finest work. Barry Clare, Jazz Weekly

The usual immaculate Retrospective production values ensure that this is a Rolls-Royce experience with over two and a half hours of wonderful music, so difficult to pick out any highlights when such a uniform excellence prevails. Gerry Stonestreet, In Tune