Sunday, April 26, 2015

Illuminated manuscript

News just in of a new coffee table book celebrating Billy Strayhorn in his centenary year. The book may be pre-ordered here.





Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life is a stunning collection of essays, photographs, and ephemera celebrating Billy Strayhorn, one of the most significant yet under-appreciated contributors to 20th century American music. Released in commemoration of Strayhorn's centennial, this luxurious coffee-table book offers intimate details of the composer's life from musicians, scholars, and Strayhorn's closest relatives. Perhaps best known for his 28-year collaborative role as Duke Ellington's "writing and arranging companion," Strayhorn has emerged in recent years as an even more meritorious force in shaping the jazz canon. "Strayhorn" delves into every stage of Billy's career, beginning with his abusive upbringing and early success to later partnerships with Lena Horne and the Copasetics. Rich with insights, the book covers topics such as his music, family, intellectual pursuits, involvement with civil rights, and open homosexuality. Featuring contributions from Strayhorn's biographer David Hajdu, film director Rob Levi, music scholar Walter van de Leur, as well as lush photography and rare memorabilia like handwritten scores, this is a book to be treasured by jazz aficionados and music lovers everywhere. Enthralling and visually captivating, "Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life" lauds a beloved jazz legend and captures a prodigious legacy that will influence generations to come.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Venu Dimanche...






From Maison du Duke, here is a trailer for the forthcoming CD/DVD presentation of The Duke Orchestra's performance last year of Ellington's Sacred Music. The standard of musicianship and the beauty of the presentation is astounding.

The set may be pre-ordered from Maison du Duke here along with the itinerary fro a proposed tour of cathedrals through June. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Conny Plank Session




From Elmore magazine:

Revolutionary jazz composer Duke Ellington’s Conny Plank Session will finally see the light of day this July. For those unfamiliar with German sound engineer and producer Conny Plank, he rose to prominence for his work with Kraftwerk and Cluster. Stories have been told of this collaboration for many years, and we will finally have a chance to hear it this summer thanks to Grönland Records.

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington

While each tale varies greatly, nearly all of them contain Ellington re-listening to the takes and admiring Planks’ work. German musician/writer Henrik Von Holtum writes, “the likelihood of finding a good, unreleased Duke Ellington recording is slight at best. When Grönland Records called and told me they had found exactly that in Conny Plank’s estate and asked me if I wanted to give it a listen, I felt pretty honored, and excited.”
Von Holtum continues, “The music of Duke Ellington is – in my worldview – to jazz what Bach’s oeuvre is to classical music: THE great benchmark.” From the sounds of it the session is unbelievable and may even be considered a crucial perspective on Ellington’s storied career. Ellington rose to stardom throughout the 30’s and 40’s and played what many consider to be some of the most important standards in jazz such as Take the 'A' Train, which was originally written by Billy Strayhorn. The Conny Plank Session comes out on July 10th via Gronland.
(My highlighting)

Songs of Praise...





To book tickets or to take part(!), the application form may be downloaded here.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

That's Jazz...



The latest edition of That's Jazz with Brian Priestley...