I took in a jazz performance last evening. The band played several Ellington and Strayhorn favorites, including Take the A Train. I was curious to learn more about Strayhorn. Here’s what I discovered.
Billy Strayhorn was Duke Ellington’s alter ego. The two musicians collaborated for many years, but it was Strayhorn who composed Take the A Train.
Strayhorn grew up on Bach and many of the other classics, having studied at the Pittsburgh Musical Institute. He wanted to be a concert pianist. Ellington openly acknowledged that Strayhorn’s skill as a composer was, in part, owed to the fact that he understood Bach.