LarrysImprovPage.com Blog

I'm Tony Miceli, and I'm a vibe player in Philadelphia, Pa. I play, teach and I run LarrysImprovPage.com.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Billy Strayhorn PBS Documentary on Feb. 6, & CD soundtrack review

Check out the 90-minute documentary on Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington's composing partner, on Feb. 6, Tuesday night on PBS (in Philadelphia, 10 p.m., WHYY-TV, Ch. 12).

The CD soundtrack, "Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life" (Blue Note), earned a ***1/2 review in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's an excerpt:

"Its sonic merits are evident even without seeing the film; the celebrating is done by such folks as pianists Bill Charlap and Hank Jones, singers Dianne Reeves and Elvis Costello, and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. And for Reeves and Charlap, these are not mere cameos.

Reeves sings on six of the 15 cuts, digging deep into Strayhorn's epic title track and projecting solar flares of emotion on the ballad "Day Dream." Charlap and Jones make a mad and merry duet of "Tonk" that bridges the generational split between them while Lovano blows some moody air around the ever sensual "Chelsea Bridge."

Costello offers some intriguing, if not entirely successful, efforts on a remake of "Blood Count," which Strayhorn wrote as he lay dying of esophageal cancer in 1967.

As Duke Ellington's in-house writer, Strayhorn created many of the compositions most associated with the leader. His rich and desperation-filled life left us stylish music that continues to inspire."

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