|Posted by: editoron Friday, November 17, 2006 - 08:07 AM|
Album To Be Released January 23, Film To Air On PBS February 6
On January 23, 2007, Blue Note Records will release the companion soundtrack to Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, a 90-minute documentary film about the pioneering African-American composer, arranger and pianist. The film will present Strayhorn's fascinating life as it has never been told before, showcasing his talent and passions, as well as taking a hard look at his complex relationship with Duke Ellington and illuminating the issues that prevented Strayhorn from receiving the full recognition he deserved. It will debut nationally as part of PBS's Independent Lens series, on February 6, 2007.
Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, the soundtrack, will feature 15 Strayhorn compositions performed by several of today's jazz stars including Blue Note artists Bill Charlap, Joe Lovano, and Dianne Reeves, as well as piano legend Hank Jones and special guest Elvis Costello. These vibrant new performances are also captured visually and featured throughout the film.
Strayhorn's 29-year collaboration with Ellington produced a body of work that has no rival in originality and range--from unforgettable popular songs and jazz compositions to orchestral suites and theatrical scores.
From the opening track, Bill Charlap's sparkling solo piano version of “Fantastic Rhythm,” an early composition from a Cole Porter-style musical revue of the same name written in 1935, the vitality of Strayhorn's timeless music is evident. The following performances display the remarkable breadth and depth of his writing as well, with compositions that span more than 30 years. Charlap also offers a solo piano version of one of Strayhorn's early classical works, “Valse,” and on one of the album's highlights joins the legendary pianist Hank Jones for a spirited four-hands rendition of “Tonk” (which was originally performed four-hands by Strayhorn and Ellington).
Jones also makes several more appearances, including a showcase solo piano performance of “Satin Doll,” and as part of a quartet with saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist George Mraz and drummer Paul Motian. Lovano's blustery tenor leads the quartet through jaunty takes on “Rain Check” and “Johnny Come Lately,” and gives achingly beautiful readings of two Strayhorn ballads, the Debussy-inspired “Chelsea Bridge” and “Lotus Blossom.”
Lovano and Charlap also lend support to special guest vocalist Elvis Costello on one of the most striking performances on the album, a haunting version of Strayhorn's final composition “Blood Count,” which was written from a hospital bed shortly before he died in 1967. Here the tune is given lyrics penned by Costello and retitled “My Flame Burns Blue.”
Vocalist Dianne Reeves, who also plays the most prominent musical role in the film, performs six songs on the album, including some of Strayhorn's most defining works such as “Lush Life,” rendered here as a stunning duet with guitarist Russell Malone, and quartet versions of “Something to Live For,” “Day Dream,” “My Little Brown Book,” and the lesser-known “The Flowers Die of Love” and “So This Is Love.”