Terell Stafford, performing live at the Village Vanguard. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

toggle caption
John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Terell Stafford, performing live at the Village Vanguard.

John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Live At The Village Vanguard

Terell Stafford QuintetWBGO

Terell Stafford Quintet in Concert

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134366694/134594662" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The composer Billy Strayhorn was responsible for some of the most exquisite melodies in the history of jazz. You've surely heard some of his tunes, if not necessarily his name: He mostly wrote them for the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Jazz musicians know of his genius, though. The trumpeter Terell Stafford certainly does; his upcoming album This Side of Strayhorn interprets nine Strayhorn tunes as straight-ahead jazz, circa 2011. He and his quintet celebrated the release of this recording live at the Village Vanguard in New York, and WBGO and NPR Music were on hand on opening night for a live audio/video broadcast and webcast.

This Side of Strayhorn largely features Strayhorn's more celebrated tunes — "Lush Life," "Day Dream," etc. — in a plainspoken, tasteful style. Stafford's band, however, has also workshopped a number of lesser-known tunes, which cropped up in performance: "Lana Turner," or "Smada." Pianist Bruce Barth had an important hand in these arrangements; he's part of Stafford's regular cast, which also includes the busy Peter Washington on bass, Tim Warfield on saxophones (coming in from rural Pennsylvania) and Dana Hall on drums (coming in from Chicago).

Stafford came to the jazz forefront the time-honored way — by spending valuable time as an apprentice in bands of veteran bandleaders like Bobby Watson and McCoy Tyner. Most of his gigs still come as a sideman; when you can play in almost every setting on both trumpet and flugelhorn, you get phone calls. He also directs the jazz program and teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia. But he's carved out time for his working band, and there's a document to prove it. In 2005, a nearly identical ensemble to the one appearing here recorded Stafford's previous album, the live CD Taking Chances. (In 2009, another nearly identical ensemble recorded Hall's debut as a leader, Into the Light.)

Terell Stafford plays in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the big band in residence at the club on Monday nights, so he's no stranger to the venerated venue. But starting on March 15, 2011 he got to move up from the back row for a week.

Set List

All compositions by Billy Strayhorn

  • "Raincheck"
  • "Smada"
  • "Lana Turner"
  • "Lush Life"
  • "Johnny Come Lately"
Personnel
  • Terell Stafford, trumpet/flugelhorn
  • Tim Warfield, saxophones
  • Bruce Barth, piano
  • Peter Washington, bass
  • Dana Hall, drums
Credits
  • Josh Jackson, producer and host
  • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
  • Michael Downes, production assistant
  • Mike McGoff, production assistant
  • Lara Pellegrinelli, moderator
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Trudy Pitts performs on this week's Piano Jazz. Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Trudy Pitts On Piano Jazz

The organist performs Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" with Marian McPartland in this 1992 session.

Trudy Pitts On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515756064/515756319" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Barry Harris is featured in this episode of Piano Jazz. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Barry Harris On Piano Jazz

The seminal jazz pianist and educator joined host Marian McPartland in the fall of 2002.

Piano Jazz: 2/3/2017

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/513227454/513227735" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Loston Harris. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

The singer and pianist performs "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" with host Marian McPartland.

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507397417/507539522" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

André Previn. Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon hide caption

toggle caption Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

André Previn On Piano Jazz

The conductor, composer and pianist plays a special treatment of "Stormy Weather" in a 1990 session.

André Previn On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506487969/506720784" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Patti Wicks. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist and singer join Marian McPartland for a duet version of "Body And Soul."

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/505874280/505875288" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Grover Washington, Jr. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

The Grammy-winning saxophonist plays Duke Ellington standards with host Marian McPartland in a 1994 session.

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504956273/504956800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top