“Blood Count” is one of the most haunting compositions in popular music. Composed by master composer and orchestrator Billy Strayhorn on his death bed, the song has come to be a sort of tone poem for the late, great Ellington collaborator. Ellington gave his partner’s final work a fair but overly-Ellingtonian treatment on his Strayhorn tribute record …And His Mother Called Him Bill. Vijay Iyer, the visionary Asian-American pianist who prompted and scored the film Radhe Radhe last year, gives Strayhorn’s ode to life and death a proper treatment. Here, all the subtly, nuance, and emotion that Strayhorn poored into this final, definite, encapsulating work is given the delicacy and attention that it has rarely received. Iyer’s version is definitive.
Iyer will be performing with his trio at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue on April 19th. More info here.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month and Billy Strayhorn is the poster child for this year’s events. More info here.