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Lotus (Lotus Blossom)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (06/17/17)
Composer: Strayhorn, Billy (arr. Wyton, Alec)
Sample Producer: Milan Digital Audio
Sample Set: Salisbury Cathedral Father Willis
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Jazz alla Cathedral
William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn (November 29, 1915 – May 31, 1967) was an American jazz composer, pianist, lyricist, and arranger, best known for his successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington, lasting nearly three decades. His compositions include "Take the 'A' Train", "Chelsea Bridge", "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing", and "Lush Life".

His "signature song," "Lotus" was improvised by Alec Wyton, and played at the funeral of Duke Ellington, held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC in 1974. In 1986, he transcribed the improvisation, making this arrangement.

Wyton (1921-2007), an English-born organist, composer and teacher who brought contemporary influence to American church music over decades, two of them as organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. He served at St. Matthew's Church, Northampton, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, St. John the Divine in NYC, and St. James Church, also in NYC. Besides presiding over prominent church music programs, he was the coordinator of the commission that produced The Hymnal 1982, the one used in Episcopal churches nationwide today.

I studied for awhile with Wyton. I have to say that I never felt that he enjoyed teaching me, and I can't say that I learned much from him. He was trying to "change" the church, and bring it into the "modern" age. I viewed those "changes" as a"destruction," and I'm sure that this was part of our mutual "feelings" for the relationship. I viewed it as, "Well, I've had fun and success in the church, so now, let's change it and just see what happens..."

In retrospect, I wish it could have been "different," but, that's the way it was...

"Lotus" is available from from Michael's Music Service in Charlotte, NC, and the website is:

Photos of Strayhorn, Ellington and Wyton are attached below, as well as a letter that was sent to Wyton from Ruth Ellington, a frequent worshiper at St. John the Divine.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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