The Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn Concerts were conceived as a dedication to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn to celebrate their work together. When the Billy Strayhorn recordings were done and established, the band as a vehicle to celebrate the works of Strayhorn took a few years to put the works together, especially after the 100th Anniversary of Duke Ellington’s birth.
Ron Gill and his band, had previously done recordings at concerts that were dedicated to parts of the works that Duke Ellington did. Of course, that collection included works by Strayhorn.
Musical history tells us that Duke Ellington came upon Billy Strayhorn who was determined to join Ellington’s band, or even another band, perhaps Count Basie. But, Duke was his first choice and Ellington accepted the young man and gave him directions to his offices in Harlem. Thus, Take The ‘A’ Train was composed so that Billy would get directions to Harlem.
Of course, the partnership of Duke and Billy would take decades of compositions together that were remarkable and created works that included compositions of music for films, concerts, special dedicated works and popular songs that were created by them and established them as a team of masters of their creativity.
Ron realized that no one took the time to put a program of Ellingtonia together in a concert form so the concept was born.
See Photo Gallery of Duke & Strays Concert