The Music of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

by Vinnie Cutro

Released 2010
Royal Music Ensembles Records
Released 2010
Royal Music Ensembles Records
Trumpet & Piano Duo performing the classic jazz compositions of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn
Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Duke Ellington is considered to be America's greatest all-around musician—composer, orchestrator/arranger, songwriter, bandleader/conductor, accompanist, and soloist. A prominent figure in the history of jazz, Ellington's music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical. His career spanned more than 50 years and included leading his orchestra, composing an inexhaustible songbook, scoring for movies, and world tours. Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and thanks to his eloquence and extraordinary charisma, he is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional genres of music. His reputation increased after his death, the Pulitzer Prize Board bestowing a special posthumous honor in 1999.

Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967)

If you are familiar with the jazz composition, “Take the A Train,” then you know something about not only Duke Ellington, but also Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn, its composer. Strayhorn joined Ellington's band in 1939, at the age of twenty-two. Ellington liked what he saw in Billy and took this shy, talented pianist under his wings. Neither one was sure what Strayhorn's function in the band would be, but their musical talents had attracted each other. By the end of the year Strayhorn had become essential to the Duke Ellington Band; arranging, composing, sitting-in at the piano. Billy made a rapid and almost complete assimilation of Ellington's style and technique. It was difficult to discern where one's style ended and the other's began. The results of the Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration brought much joy to the jazz world.


During the past 30 years Vinnie Cutro has performed with noted jazz greats such as HORACE SILVER, BUDDY RICH and LIONEL HAMPTON.He has traveled extensively throughout the world appearing at jazz festivals and concerts in Europe,Japan, Africa,Canada,South America and the U.S.A..

His first CD release as a leader(BLUES FOR THE OPTIMIST ) featured jazz artists such as Bob Mintzer,Jim McNeely,Victor Jones,and Mike Richmond.This CD contains 7 original compositions by the leader plus two new arrangements of John Coltrane's Giant Steps and Naima.
*********Available at CDBABY.COM

His second CD release featuring Mike Stern(guitar), Bob Farrel (trombone), Martin Wind (bass),Sarah Jane Cion (piano),Victor Jones (drums)and Mitch Schechter (piano) Is called "ABBERATION"

*********Available at CDBABY.COM

Vinnie Cutro is currently performing in the New York area with his new ensemble which is called VINNIE CUTRO & NEW YORK CITY SOUNDSCAPE. His 3rd CD "SAKURA" (featuring Jerry Bergonzi (tenor saxophone),Billy Hart (drums), Bob Farrel (trombone), Charles Blenzig (piano),
Jay Anderson (bass), and Mitch Schechter (piano) ) is
available at CDBABY.COM


Mitchell Schechter
musician & composer

Performance experience ranges from concerts, recitals, and recordings, to hotel, restaurant, and club work. As pianist Mitch performed and recorded with mandolin and clarinet virtuoso Andy Statman for eight years. The quartet made appearances at Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, WNYC Radio, Symphony Space, and several European venues, including Bosendorfer Concert Hall in Amsterdam. As a sideman Mitch can be heard on numerous recordings with some of the finest musicians in the New York area. Some recent CD recordings that Mitch is featured on include, 3 CD’s by Trumpeter Vincent Cutro, {leader} along with Mike Stern, Billy Hart, Jay Anderson, Victor Jones, and Jerry Bergonzie. The Composer’s Workshop Big Band under the direction of Mike Treni featuring Jerry Niewood. Other CD’s include, Drummer Aaron Alexander’s “Blues For Sparkey”, Peter Furlan’s, “Spy Glass Hill”. Also featured on 3 CD’s with Composer and Arranger Eric Storckman’s Septet “Scrapbook”, “Chuckle Factory” and “One Station Plaza”. Rich Rieter’s, “I Hear Africa.” His trio “Jazz Spring Trio” has been together since 1994 and there Cd “Season and Sentiment’s”, has been well we reviewed. recorded with He has been composing and recording his music throughout his career. Some of his compositions have been featured in recent documentaries. During the summer of 2006, he traveled to Prague and Poland to perform music from a CD “B’nai Keshet Suite”, which he co-lead with friend and fellow musician Marty Fogel. Mitch has enjoyed teaching piano students in the area for over 30 years and living in West Milford with his family on Pinecliff Lake.


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