Legend dictates that Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington worked together so closely-ping-ponging ideas at marathon writing sessions-that by the time they’d polished off a new composition neither could remember who’d contributed what to the song. Because he was the more public face of their working relationship, Ellington, throughout their quarter-century as collaborators, received most of the credit, a situation with which Strayhorn seemed comfortable. But for this quintet session, the extraordinary trumpeter and flugelhornist Terell Stafford shines the light back on Strayhorn. He doesn’t so much remove the Ellingtonia from the music as he rethinks how it might have played out had Duke never been involved-and had Strayhorn been writing for a small band in the 21st century.
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