Here’s one kind of inspiration: the J.M.W. Turner painting of Old Battersea Bridge, which Billy Strayhorn saw on an early trip to Europe — presumably in 1939 when the Ellington band went overseas:
Strayhorn wrote CHELSEA BRIDGE with this painting (or one by Whistler) in his consciousness. That composition became a splendid evocation in sound for the Ellington orchestra, featuring Ben Webster. Seventy-five years later, I and others in the audience were privileged to see and hear Howard Alden, guitar; Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Dan Barrett, trombone; Frank Tate, string bass; Ricky Malichi, drums, create their own sensitive evocation of all the inspirations that had come before them, sweetly and memorably adding their own:
Strayhorn when young:
And two delicious additions. First, Billy at the piano:
Second, in the video of CHELSEA BRIDGE from Cleveland, Dan mentions that the preceding song was their performance of Ray Noble’s THE TOUCH OF YOUR LIPS. It would be a shame to deprive listeners of this.
I’ll see you at the 2016 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party this September.
May your happiness increase!