Dianne Reeves Speaks on Judged Jazz Artist (Billy Strayhorn)


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If jazz legend Billy Strayhorn were straight, his work may have not been underrecognized.

A companion soundtrack to the 90-minute documentary film about the pioneering composer, arranger and pianist, “Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life," will take a hard look at the intolerant society Strayhorn infiltrated his music with and his complex relationship with Duke Ellington. The documentary debuts nationally as part of PBS's Independent Lens series on Feb. 6.

“Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life," the soundtrack, features 15 Strayhorn compositions performed by several of today's jazz stars including Bill Charlap, Joe Lovano and Dianne Reeves, as well as piano legend Hank Jones and special guest Elvis Costello.

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Reeves, who also plays the most prominent musical role in the film, performs six songs on the album, including some of Strayhorn's most defining works such as “Lush Life."

Question: How did you get involved in this project?

Dianne Reeves: I was asked to be involved by one of Billy's family members. They told me that they would be doing some Strayhorn music that no one had ever heard before, and they asked me if I would be interested in recording some of those songs. Of course, I said yes.


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