Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn/Johnny Dankworth

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This double LP has two unrelated sessions. Although Billy Strayhorn allegedly led the first date, the Duke Ellington Orchestra is heard playing their usual repertoire with only one Strayhorn composition ("Passion Flower"), and it sounds as if Duke himself is on piano; this set was probably released under Strayhorn's name for contractual purposes. The main star is altoist Johnny Hodges, on such tunes as "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," "Jeep's Blues" and "All of Me." Also heard from is Harry Carney (featured on "Sophisticated Lady"), trumpeter Shorty Baker and violinist Ray Nance, among others. The second half of the two-fer has the 1961 Johnny Dankworth big band, a much less distinctive group despite the presence of tenorman Danny Moss and trumpeter Dickie Hawdon. The music (mixing together Dankworth originals with a couple of Cannonball Adderley tunes, "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" and even "The Avengers Theme") should please straight-ahead big-band collectors.