Trumpeter Terell Stafford's 2011 effort This Side of Strayhorn features the hornman performing a series of classic and lesser-known compositions from Duke Ellington's longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn. Born out of his week-long participation the "Celebrating Billy Strayhorn" fest in Dayton, OH, the album is an urbane and well-crafted affair that finds Stafford wringing much joy improvisationally and otherwise out of these superb compositions. Joining Stafford here are such similarly adept players as saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Dana Hall. To these ends, tracks like "Smada" showcase Stafford's longstanding love of trumpeter Lee Morgan's bluesy and propulsive style, while "Little Brown Book" is a warm, cup-muted number. Elsewhere, the burnished slow-burn blues "Multicolored Blue" and the laid-back and sultry midtempo ballad "Lana Turner" are easily some of the best small group interpretations of Strayhorn you could ever find.
This Side of Strayhorn Review
by Matt Collar