Billy Strayhorn was born 100 years ago today, so what better day to listen to Remembering Billy Strayhorn, a CD from the Danish Jacob Roved Quintet, released by Gateway Music.
The band is John Ruocco (clarinet and saxophone), Thomas Fryland (trumpet), Rasmus Ehlers (piano), Jesper Bodilsen or Jakob Roland (double bass) and Jacob Roved (drums). All the arrangements are by Fryland and are gentle adjustments to the originals to suit the band and some modern harmony and feel.
The recording is a studio one but with a live, uncorrected philosophy and so feels natural, warts and all. It might not be a drastic reworking of Strayhorn, but why muck about too much when the original tunes are so strong.
A charming prelude to the real thing, and a reminder that I don’t listen to my Ellington discs nearly often enough.