CD Review: 'Lush Life' Gives Strayhorn the All-Star Treatment

Article excerpt

'Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life'

Various artists (Blue Note)

Billy Strayhorn's genius has a downside, too. He wrote songs that are played so often some have become annoying. "Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life," an album accompanying a PBS film, includes some of them. The performances, however, are all so good, there is no problem here. The album also includes songs that are not played as frequently, such as "Fantastic Rhythm," "The Flowers Die of Love" and "Tonk." But the real story of this album is the collection of marvelous performers. Elvis Costello joins sax ace Joe Lovano and pianist Bill Charlap on "Blood Count." Dianne Reeves does vocals on "Lush Life," "Something to Live For," "Day Dream, " "My Little Brown Book" and two others. Pianist Hank Jones sits in on five songs, one a duet with Charlap. Besides "Blood Count," Lovano is on four others. In many ways, this is an all-star set, and that includes the songs. The film will be broadcast on WQED 10 p.m. Tuesdayas well as 3 and 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

-- Bob Karlovits

'The Book of Love'

Cheryl Bentyne (Telarc)

Cheryl Bentyne from the Manhattan Transfer does such a fine job presenting gorgeous songs on "The Book of Love" it is tempting to overlook its weakness in a true jazz sense. The lovely arrangements and her great voice combine to produce a collection of songs that are pleasant to hear, but this is not the work of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. It is a cabaret-oriented tribute to song rather than imagination. The 12 songs are clustered in aspects of romance from "Longing" to "Lust" to "Loss. …