Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn

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9780865475120: Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn
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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's Lush 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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Review:

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.

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Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) was one of the most accomplished composers in the history of American music, the creator of a body of work that includes such standards as "Take the 'A' Train", "Lush Life", and "Something to Live For". Yet all his life Strayhorn was overshadowed by another great composer: his employer, friend, and collaborator, Duke Ellington, with whom he worked as the Ellington Orchestra's ace songwriter and arranger. Lush Life, David Hajdu's sensitive and moving biography of Strayhorn, is a corrective to decades of patchwork scholarship and journalism about this giant of jazz. It is also a vibrant, absorbing account of the "lush life" led by Strayhorn and other jazz musicians in Harlem and Paris. A musical prodigy who began a career as a composer while still a teenager in Pittsburgh, Strayhorn came to New York City at Duke Ellington's invitation in 1939; soon afterward he wrote "'A' Train", which became the signature song of the Ellington Orchestra, one of the most popular jazz bands in the country. For the next three decades, Strayhorn labored under a complex agreement whereby Ellington thrived in the role of public artist to Strayhorn's private one, often taking the bows for Strayhorn's work. Strayhorn was alternately relieved to be kept out of the limelight and frustrated about it. In Harlem and in the cafe society downtown, the small, shy black composer carried himself with singular style and grace as one of the few jazzmen to be openly homosexual. His compositions and elegant arrangements made him a hero to other musicians, but when he died at age fifty-two, his life cut short by alcohol abuse and cancer, few people fully understood the vital role he played in theEllington Orchestra's development into a vehicle for some of the greatest, most ambitious American music of this century.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780374194383: Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0374194386 ISBN 13:  9780374194383
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996
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9781862070158: Lush Life, A Biography of Billy Strayhorn

Farrar..., 1997
Hardcover

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Book Description North Point Press, United States, 1997. Paperback. Condition: New. North Point Pbk. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 s Lush 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. Seller Inventory # AAS9780865475120

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Book Description North Point Press, United States, 1997. Paperback. Condition: New. North Point Pbk. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 s Lush 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. Seller Inventory # AAS9780865475120

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