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Ramsey Lewis

Celebrating Billy Strayhorn, an overlooked master, at 100 with a new festival

Celebrating Billy Strayhorn, an overlooked master, at 100 with a new festival

He was one of the greatest jazz composers America has produced, but he remains overshadowed by his brilliant employer, Duke Ellington. He penned scores that are revered around the world, but masterpieces such as "Lush Life" and "Take the 'A' Train" are far more famous than the man who wrote them. He showed courage in coming out as a gay man in an era when few artists of his stature did, but he paid dearly for that heroic stance. Fortunately, as Billy Strayhorn's Nov. 29 centennial approaches, the world slowly is beginning to acknowledge his importance as man and musician, with Chicago to take on a prominent role in celebrating his achievements. A...

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