Kindle [Lush Life A Biography of Billy Strayhorn] » David Hajdu
Having finally finished it i continue to find the book appallingly written but
had a bit of crush on billy strayhorn by the end of it and was unbelievably sad to leave his world which i supposeI Had A Bit Of
Is The Point Of A Good Biogrthe point of a good biogr took me five years or so to finish off this one It s a well written biography if I had to criticize one thing it s that the narrative hustles along from project to project but never really probes into than 4 or 5 close relationships of Strayhorn s Because there was no in depth interview with Duke Ellington on how he worked with Strayhorn much of their relationship the most conseuential one of Strayhorn s life feels underexplored Music biographies are hard by nature now this is a for Strayhorn was the genius behind Duke El who blackmailed Billy into silence for his gay life and ept the boy in the back of the bus An award winning and nominated bio by author David Hajdu It took nearly two weeks to read this biography of the jazz genius Billy Strayhorn Every time I read a reference to a song a singer a film score an event I then closed the book and took a dive into YouTube or Wikipedia or Google images or Spotify to experience the reference for myself I was up half the night listening to the South African jazz singer Sathima Bea Benjamin She did a session with Duke Ellington in Paris Billy Strayhorn played the piano so gentle and smooth and the Danish jazz violinist Svend Asmussen plucked the strings throughout Ellington and Strayhorn liked the sound of the violin that way and insisted on this method for most of the album I listened to I m Glad There is You over and over and smiled as I thought of my ow A singularly moving portrait of Strayhorn black gay and all but entirely missing from the annals of Americana and jazz Strayhorn s Pittsburgh roots are also worth noting the particularities of that particular city amidst that cultural moment was indispensable to his growth as an artist the man who brought us Take The A Train credited usually to Duke Ellington Lush Life The Far East Suite and countless other groundbreaking masterpieces of twentieth century music Hajdu is a master at bringing Stray s story to life making us wish we had met him Duke ran his business like a family and his family like a business Mercer EllingtonThe Duke necessarily but sadly the focus of the lens through which Billy is understood comes off as a benevolent patriarch here sacrificing the rightful recognition of individuals for the survival and success of his brand er band It feels cunning than conniving a clever marketing strategy in a white mainstream which was unprepared to admire so many talented blacks an act which could implicitly concede euality Instead after swing was safe it canonized the exception Billy was clearly a beautiful humble genius and his tragedy is that he remained the unacknowledged meat and potatoes in Ellington s melting pot because we didn t recognize that black and gay are vital components o I new very little about Billy Strayhorn other than that he was Ellington s sideman forever This book revealed a much complex and challenged individual who actually wrote a ton of music for Ellington I had no idea he was a homosexual and how. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle AwardBilly 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'.
David Hajdu è 8 FREE READPression in a conversation he
heard about at second or third hand No but it rings true I picked thisabout at second or third hand No but it rings true I picked this up on a whim in 2002 What caught me about it was Strayhorn s ten mile stare on the book cover The burning cigarette between his fingers The internal soul of a servant who lived an outwardly humble existence while stifling the pain that lived beneath the surface his alcoholismStrayhorn was Duke Ellington s composer He was also one of the first openly gay black man to live in the public eye in the 20th century a bit taboo considering this was in the 1920s and so forth Though homosexuality wasn t uncommon during the era of big band jazz blues and the Harlem Renaissance Bessie Smith was bi sexual while poet Langston Hughes was assumed to be gay because
was never seen with a woman in the of Strayhorn it was a breakthrough considering he was not only an amazing composer but the composer for the world renowned brilliant musical creator Duke EllingtonAt the age of 17 Strayhorn wrote Lush Life A somber look at loneliness and the long for lost love and human truth How Strayhorn could capture such accuracy at a young age was puzzling to many yet one has to consider with the upbringing he had there was an incident where Strayhorn s alcoholic father pulled Strayhorn s glasses off his face put them on the ground stomped them then walked out laughing hysterically leaving Strayhorn to ponder his father s actions which did contribute to his own inner blues For Strayhorn was a loner for most of his life growing up choosing to bury himself into classical music rather than regular childhood activities He discovered his homosexuality early in life and surprisingly wasn t too fearful with coming forth with it His coming out wasn t so much of a shit storm as it is for most people it seems today mostly because Strayhorn owned it uietly and confidently enough that he didn t leave much room for his orientation to be uestioned He just played the music and went on to a behind the scenes semi famous life along side Ellington Since Strayhorn wasn t a front man nor did he hardly take the spot light his significance in Ellington s career is easily forgotten Yet Lush Life made the rounds throughout the industry spawning numerous versions from numerous singers like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole yet the best being the version done by John Coltrane alone in a 13 minute intoxicating instrumental that could illuminate the inner blues existing in anyone and bringing for Strayhorn a very calm comfortable life He didn t place himself around many racial matters Nor did he play the victim in racial confrontation as do many black people today black people today with resources and access to upward mobility than we ever had back in the 20s and 30s and 40s still choose to see themselves as second class citizens rather than the originators of American Culture that we are Yet it was in these old times where blacks didn t allow white hatred to overcome them and this was the ind of white hatred that was out in the open Sure this era wasn t perfect but there was a sense of community family and creativity along side crime poverty and un wed mothers all of which fueled the energy that went into th. 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 classi. Difficult that made his unfortunately foreshortened life For those who love jazz and love the great standards of the great Ellington periods of the 40s and 50s this is a touching and vivid portrait of an under estimated talent who courageously just wanted to be himself Lots of research into untangling the tangled legacy of Billy Strayhorn and Duke EllingtonIt would be great to travel back in time and see one of the Copasetics shows theHE WAS NEVER SEEN WITH A WOMAN IN THE
social group of tapdancers for whose annual shows Strayhorn was the musical director Also looks like Something to Live For Thegroup of tapdancers for whose annual shows Strayhorn was the musical director Also looks like Something to Live For The of Billy Strayhorn would be good to check outReading the other reviews I m not the only one who
Cried At The End Of This Biographyat the end of this biography terrific The story of a genius icking against the restrictions of his era Billy Strayhorn wanted to be a classical composer but that career path wasn t open for a black id in the 30s Instead he ended up as the right hand man of one of the most important figures in jazz Duke Ellington He composed or co composed many of Duke s biggest hits but was largely uncredited and unknown to the public This book is scholarly where it needs to be as when Hajdu teases out the writing credits for Ellington s song catalogue but also energetic passionate and readableThere are at least three big selling points to this book First the relationship between Strayhorn and Ellington is fascinating and somewhat reminiscent of that between Lennon and McCartney Ian MacDonald s excellent Beatles biography Revolution in the Head makes a great companion piece to Lush Life Strayhorn is uiet deep obsessive ahead of his time Ellington brash spontaneous generous but patronising unreconstructed he recruits Strayhorn as a safe chaperone for one of his many ex girlfriends Lena Horne because he can t stand the thought of another man getting her Their skills are similar than complementary and they don t even work very closely together when they collaborate but they still need each other and spark the best work out of each otherSecond there s the background thread of the civil rights movement As successful black entertainers Strayhorn and Ellington have far freedom than most and mingle with the Hollywood elite they re the vanguard of the liberated society of the 60s and 70s But even so they sometimes run into ridiculous social barriers The sheer idiocy of racial discrimination is striking Whites and blacks can dance together but only if there s a clothesline across the middle of the room and a mixed race band Unheard of It makes you wonder what prejudices do we toss around casually today that will seem shocking or ridiculous in 50 years time On top of this Strayhorn was not only gay but openly gay but unlike skin colour sexual orientation is something that 50s society can assiduously ignore as long as you stay out of the limelight and don t Kuli Kontrak kick up a fussThird and most of all the narrative is drenched in period detail Hajdu is brilliant at capturing the essence of a time and place through well chosen soundbites from hundreds of interviews and narrative flourishes that go just a little beyond what the historical record justifies Can he reallynow about a particular tone of voice a particular ex. 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.