Daring to arrange Strayhorn’s gems, Don Braden, Gerald Clayton, Sachal Vasandani, bassist Rene Hart and I, took on the challenge with respect and enthusiasm. The result is a collection of some of the must unique and hip modern arrangements to date.

The bass line and groove came to me as I was walking down a New York City side street and I sang it into my phone. As soon as I got back to a keyboard, it all came rushing out. This is a New Orleans-tinged go at a great Strayhorn classic.

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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. It was difficult to discern where one’s style ended and the other’s began. The results of the Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration brought much joy to the jazz world.

“Rain check” was released on the 1967 album “And His Mother Called Him Bill” by jazz legend Duke Ellington.

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More on Billy Strayhorn can be found:
official web site