Correspondence: Strayhorn and Finegan

Rifftides reader Ian Bradley writes:

I have been meaning to write for a while to say how much I enjoy reading Rifftides. I was prompted to write following your two most recent posts on Bill Finegan and Billy Strayhorn. Whilst Glenn Miller’s music is often denigrated in jazz circles – criticised for something it never set out to be – I always thought there was lot in there to listen for.

I was fascinated to read – in David Hajdu’s Strayhorn biography, I think – that Billy Strayhorn had listened to, knew and appreciated all of Finegan’s work for the Miller band. I am sorry to think that only until a couple of days ago, we still had with us the man who created that legendary arrangement of “Little Brown Jug” – and that there existed such friendship between two such great arrangers. Add that I think Bill Finegan tutored and offered much to the young Nelson Riddle and you have the three greatest writers of a time when that sad disjuncture between popular music and jazz, written and improvised work, did not exist–and popular music was all the richer for it. 

( Mr. Bradley blogs at The Record Shows. — DR)

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