Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Duke and Billy

Today, at Twist and Shout music (which has the best music selection in Denver, despite its funky atmosphere), I found a recording that I previously did not know exited (and I am an Ellington fan): "Great Times: Piano Duets," by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, which makes up the only such recording of these two giants of jazz. It was originally released in the early 1950s, but was issued on CD in 1984. It is still in print.

Duke and Strayhorn composed music together for three decades, although Strayhorn rarely performed publicly on piano. The two had a deep sympathy and understanding of one another musically, which is evident in this recording. Sadly, the fidelity is quite bad, since the session had to be reconstructed from old disks, but the interplay and new angles they bring to Ellington/Strayhorn compositions more than makes up for that.

I doubt we will ever see the likes of this duo again.

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