Ellington strayhorn relationship

Homophobia in Jazz - JazzTimes

ellington strayhorn relationship

This multibodied personality was most apparent in the Ellington-Strayhorn unity. . ELLINGTON'S relationship to his band was a carefully orchestrated affair. He writes, when the spirit strikes him," the Duke said of Strayhorn, who instructor Rejean Marois said Ellington and Strayhorn's relationship. Throughout his career, however, Strayhorn lived in Ellington's about Ellington), explores the complex, symbiotic relationship between these.

However, his mother's family was from Hillsborough, North Carolinaand she sent him there to protect him from his father's drunken sprees. Strayhorn spent many months of his childhood at his grandparents' house in Hillsborough. In an interview, Strayhorn said that his grandmother was his primary influence during the first ten years of his life. He first became interested in music while living with her, playing hymns on her piano, and playing records on her Victrola record player.

In Pittsburgh, he began his musical career, studying classical music for a time at the Pittsburgh Music Institute, writing a high school musical, forming a musical trio that played daily on a local radio station, and, while still in his teens, composing with lyrics the songs "Life Is Lonely" later renamed " Lush Life ""My Little Brown Book", and " Something to Live For ".

While still in grade school, he worked odd jobs to earn enough money to buy his first piano. While in high school, he played in the school band, and studied under the same teacher, Carl McVicker, who had also instructed jazz pianists Erroll Garner and Mary Lou Williams.

ellington strayhorn relationship

By age 19, he was writing for a professional musical, Fantastic Rhythm. Though classical music was Strayhorn's first love, his ambition to become a classical composer was shot down by the harsh reality of a black man trying to make it in the classical world, which at that time was almost completely white.

Billy Strayhorn - Wikipedia

Strayhorn was then introduced to the music of pianists like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson at age These musicians guided him into the realm of jazz where he remained for the rest of his life.

His first jazz exposure was in a combo called the Mad Hatters that played around Pittsburgh. Strayhorn's fellow students, guitarist Bill Esch and drummer Mickey Scrima, also influenced his move towards jazz, and he began writing arrangements for Buddy Malone's Pittsburgh dance band after Here he first told, and then showed the band leader how he would have arranged one of Duke's own pieces.

Ellington was impressed enough to invite other band members to hear Strayhorn. At the end of the visit, he arranged for Strayhorn to meet him when the band returned to New York. Strayhorn worked for Ellington for the next quarter century as an arranger, composer, occasional pianist and collaborator until his early death from cancer. As Ellington described him, "Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine.

Strayhorn was a gifted composer and arranger who seemed to flourish in Duke's shadow. Ellington was arguably a father figure and the band was affectionately protective of the diminutive, mild-mannered, unselfish Strayhorn, nicknamed by the band "Strays", "Weely", and "Swee' Pea".

Into the light: the life of Billy Strayhorn

Ellington may have taken advantage of him, [4] but not in the mercenary way that others had taken advantage of Ellington; instead, he used Strayhorn to complete his thoughts, while giving Strayhorn the freedom to write on his own and enjoy at least some of the credit he deserved. So many contributors pounced on him that he withdrew his postings.

ellington strayhorn relationship

Cookie Coogan, a jazz singer-pianist who works and teaches in Ithaca, N. Imagine if I was really gay. The male-dominated jazz community was hardly so open-minded. He also brushed off a quote by the late bandleader Mercer Ellington, who told David Hajdu that his father, Duke, may well have had a sexual relationship with Billy Strayhorn.

ellington strayhorn relationship

Hajdu caught plenty of heat for it. Since then, Hersch has used his musical prominence-he records frequently for Nonesuch, a prestigious classical label-to help numerous AIDS-related causes.

The jazz world is a microcosm of the real world. I know gay musicians who are in the closet who have become almost caricatures of the macho straight jazz musician-stylistically inhibited, emotionally constipated in their music-making. They were all straight, basically. Playing creative jazz music with someone demands a certain intimacy.

In either case, the best defense is honesty, says Andy Bey. Still boyish at 62, Bey is at a peak of acclaim after decades of obscurity.

Bey went on to sing with such hard-bop leaders as Horace Silver and Gary Bartz. Who wants to be recognized by a bunch of assholes, anyway? What do you want from them? What can they give you? At least I have an identity.

ellington strayhorn relationship

He brings an intellectual clarity and a wealth of scholarship to both. There he ran into some Berklee faculty. Knowing the incident would be gossiped about at school, he faced a decision: Do I want to be who I am, or do I want to continue living a double life?