Wade Girton

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Billy Strayhorn was Duke Ellington’s arranger for decades and wrote much of his most popular music. Because he started his career as Ellington’s protégé, his distinct compositional style was often assumed to have come from Ellington. After his death, his music experienced a critical reappraisal, and he was canonized as one of jazz’s great composers. Because of this relatively recent change in his perceived stature as a composer, most of his works have not been reinterpreted or re-arranged as much as those of other prominent jazz composers. The goal of this project is to reinterpret Strayhorn’s music in a modern jazz idiom while still retaining the essence of his music. The selections (“Chelsea Bridge,” “Isfahan,” “Johnny Come Lately,” and “Take the ‘A’ Train) represent the span of Strayhorn’s career and some of his most important work. Recordings of both Strayhorn and other musicians will be used to inform the arrangements.

Publication Date






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