Chapter Ten North by Southwest: The Final Years

Walter van de Leur

in Something to Live For

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195124484
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868711 | DOI:
Chapter Ten North by Southwest: The Final Years

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This chapter details how in the last years of Strayhorn’s life, his and Ellington’s activities drifted in various directions. While the orchestra embarked on some of its most commercial projects ever, Strayhorn wrote some of his most intimate compositions. Among the more artistically challenging projects Ellington and Strayhorn initiated is The Far East Suite, to which Strayhorn contributed Bluebird of Delhi, Isfahan, and Agra. The final segment explores his activities outside the Ellington realm: the recordings of The Peaceful Side, and the agonizing Suite for the Duo. In Blood Count, Strayhorn radically steered away from any compromise. A detailed analysis of this bitter and introspective work, that conjures the devastating consequences of Strayhorn’s progressing cancer, sums up Strayhorn’s virtues as a jazz composer.

Keywords: Ellington; Strayhorn; The Far East Suite; Suite for the Duo; Blood Count; jazz

Chapter.  4424 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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