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Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn (1996)
by David Hajdu
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0865475121, Paperback)A 1996 nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award, this perceptive, meticulously researched biography rescues from obscurity the gifted Billy Strayhorn (1915-67), Duke Ellington's arranger and composer of many popular Ellington Orchestra tunes, including "Take the `A' Train." Worshipped by jazz aficionados as the creative power behind the Ellington throne, Strayhorn preferred to live quietly while his friend/boss took the bows. In clear prose and with careful attention to nuance, David Hajdu documents Strayhorn's contributions to the Ellington magic and delineates an attractive personality who found good in almost everyone he met.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:20 -0400)
A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award Billy Strayhorn (1915-67) was one of the greatest composers in the history of American music, the creator of a body of work that includes such standards as "Take the 'A' Train." Yet all his life Strayhorn was overshadowed by his friend and collaborator Duke Ellington, with whom he worked for three decades as the Ellington Orchestra's ace songwriter and arranger. A "definitive" corrective (USA Today) to decades of patchwork scholarship and journalism about this giant of jazz, David Hajdu'sLush Life is a vibrant and absorbing account of the "lush life" that Strayhorn and other jazz musicians led in Harlem and Paris. While composing some of the most gorgeous American music of the twentieth century, Strayhorn labored under a complex agreement whereby Ellington took the bows for his work. Until his life was tragically cut short by cancer and alcohol abuse, the small, shy composer carried himself with singular style and grace as one of the few jazzmen to be openly homosexual.Lush Life has sparked an enthusiastic revival of interest in Strayhorn's work and is already acknowledged as a jazz classic.
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