Billy Strayhorn Centennial Part 3

Dec 18, 2015

Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington

The collaboration between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn lasted nearly 30 years and produced some of the best American music of the 20th century.

But while Ellington's name is familiar to many, Billy Strayhorn remains relatively unknown.  Even though Strayhorn left Ellington for a brief period in the 1950's, he returned to create memorable suites like Such Sweet Thunder, The Queen's Suite and The Far East Suite among many others.

After a battle with cancer, Billy Strayhorn died in 1967 at the young age of 51.  Shortly after, Duke Ellington and the band recorded the historic Strayhorn tribute album And His Mother Called Him Bill, which featured many of Strayhorn's classic compositions.  During his 30 years with Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn created a significant and vast body of work as a composer, arranger, lyricist and pianist.  Click on the links below to hear the other stories in this series.

Music in this episode:

1. Kissing Bug (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington Plays Billy Strayhorn

2. Star Crossed Lovers  (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder

3. Such Sweet Thunder from Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder

4. U.M.M.G. (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington's Jazz Party

5. Sunset and the Mockingbird  (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite

6. King Fit the Battle of 'Bam from Duke Ellington's My People

7. Isfahan  (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington's The Far East Suite

8. Blood Count  (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington's And His Mother Called Him Bill

9. Lotus Blossom (Billy Strayhorn) from Duke Ellington's And His Mother Called Him Bill