Episode #28

In addition to the friendship and collaboration between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, today we talk to Ed Partyka about the characteristics of their compositions, arrangements and orchestration.

Billy Strayhorn was Duke Ellington’s closest collaborator and fellow musician for almost three decades. An anecdote illustrates just how close their musical bond was: Duke Ellington was on tour, Billy Strayhorn stayed in New York. The intro to a piece was to be composed. So the two of them decided to write one version each independently and then use the better one. When they met again and played their proposals to each other, they were identical.

As close, valuable and fruitful as this collaboration was, it also had many downsides. Today we know that hundreds of compositions and arrangements published in Ellington’s name were actually written by both of them or even by Billy Strayhorn alone. In today’s episode, Ed tells us what Billy Strayhorn’s untimely death might have to do with it and what is rumored in the jazz scene.