Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sophisticated Lady

Music by Duke Ellington (1932); lyrics by Irving Mills & Mitchell Parish.
Chick Corea
(piano) & Gary Burton (vibes)

Note: The attribution to Billy Strayhorn, as labeled in the video, is incorrect (Strayhorn did not meet Ellington until six years after this piece was written). Also, Irving Mills (lyrics) was the manager of the Duke Ellington Orchestra until 1939; whether or not he actually wrote the lyrics for which he is credited is widely disputed. The issue was one of royalties. Ellington frequently took credit for music he didn't write; he paid a flat fee for compositions, then credited himself, so that he could collect royalties. Sadly, Billy Strayhorn, who willingly lived his life in the shadow of Ellington, was often on the losing end of many such transactions. Strayhorn, an openly gay black man in the era of extreme homophobia and prejudice, was Ellington's "right hand, left hand, and all the eyes in the back of my head", as stated by Ellington himself. Strayhorn was, however, accurately credited with composing "Take the A Train," Ellington's theme music.

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