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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Willie Ruff Remembers Billy Strayhorn

Vincent Oneppo


Credit Metronome
Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington at the piano, circa 1948.

   Willie Ruff, a soldier at the age of 14 and a graduate of Yale at the age of 22, has crossed the paths of many of the giants in the music world, including Paul Hindemith from the classical arena and Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Lionel Hampton, and Dwike Mitchell in the jazz world. Here he speaks to the often asked question of whether Billy Strayhorn languished in the shadow of Duke Ellington. Willie calls their relationship "symbiotic." He also tells of getting to know Billy Strayhorn, and of their collaboration in bringing to life Strayhorn's final composition, a Suite for Horn and Piano.