Queer Arrangements is a new study of Billy Strayhorn that examines his music and career at the intersection of jazz and Black queer history
The legacy of Black queer composer, arranger, and pianist Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) hovers at the edge of canonical jazz narratives. Queer Arrangements explores the ways in which Strayhorn's identity as an openly gay Black jazz musician shaped his career, including the creative roles he could assume and the dynamics between himself and his collaborators, most famously Duke Ellington, but also iconic singers such as Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. This new portrait of Strayhorn combines critical, historically-situated close readings of selected recordings, scores, and performances with biography and cultural theory to pursue alternative interpretive jazz possibilities, Black queer historical routes, and sounds. By looking at jazz history through the instrument(s) of Strayhorn's queer arrangements, this book sheds new light on his music and on jazz collaboration at midcentury.