Billy Strayhorn

Chelsea Bridge

Composed by Billy Strayhorn

Song Review by

“Take the A Train” and “Lush Life” may be two of Billy Strayhorn’s best known compositions, but the gorgeous ballad “Chelsea Bridge” easily ranks along side (if not ahead) of them, as one of his most memorable works. First recorded with Strayhorn at the piano leading Duke Ellington’s band during two 1941 studio sessions, the composer’s Impressionistic introduction and the solos of tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and valve trombonist Juan Tizol added to the timeless appeal of the song. Although it was never a frequently performed number during Duke Ellington’s concerts, the bandleader would often use it as an opportunity to feature its composer at the keyboard. One of the most rewarding renditions is the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival recording, featuring Strayhorn with Ben Webster in a quartet. Webster was especially enamored with this warm ballad, as it turns up on several of his live recordings, as well as some of his studio dates, including his memorable meeting with Gerry Mulligan. Many other musicians have recorded this gem, but it is hard to equal the magical combination of Strayhorn and Webster.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Lush Life 2000 Red Baron 4:07