“He was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine… Strayhorn does a lot of the work but I get to take the bows!” — Duke Ellington*
Songwriter and pianist Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967) was Ellington’s alter ego who wrote and arranged many of the significant works in the Ellington catalogue, including “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Chelsea Bridge.”
Cushioned by a loving circle—Lena Horne was his best friend and Ellington covered all of his living and wardrobe expenses for many years—Strayhorn is best remembered for his café-society standard “Lush Life,” which brilliantly captures the gay composer’s tragically romantic, cocktail-infused view of the world.
The world premiere of HALFWAY TO DAWN—choreographer and director David Roussève’s tribute to Strayhorn—is on REDCAT’s stage for three nights and a Sunday matinee. This psychological investigation in dance is an essential engagement on the fall calendar.
Thursday through Saturday, October 4, 5, and 6, at 8:30.
Sunday, October 7, at 3 pm.
REDCAT, 631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.
See David Hajdu, Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996).
* Duke Ellington, Music is My Mistress (New York: Doubleday, 1973).
Top: Billy Strayhorn (right) and Duke Ellington.
All performance photos: David Roussève, Halfway to Dawn. Photographs by Rose Eichenbaum. Image credit: Redcat.