Billy Strayhorn's Septet

Cue for Saxophone

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Composer/arranger/pianist Billy Strayhorn led surprisingly few sessions throughout his career, and this was only his second full-length album. Actually, the main star is altoist Johnny Hodges (who goes here under the pseudonym of "Cue Porter"), while Strayhorn (who plays piano on the seven songs) only co-wrote two basic tunes ("Cue's Blue Now" and "Watch Your Cue") with Hodges and played a fairly minor role. Also in the septet are three fellow Ellingtonians (trumpeter Shorty Baker, trombonist Quentin Jackson and clarinetist Russell Procope), along with bassist Al Hall and drummer Oliver Jackson. The results are a fine mainstream session (which has been reissued on this CD) with highlights including "Gone With the Wind," the ten-minute "Cue's Blue Now" and "Rose Room."

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