Billy Strayhorn’s original chords to Lush Life

Hey Improvisers,

Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” is one of the all-time great jazz ballads. And while the chords in the most popular fake books are good, they aren’t quite what Strayhorn himself played.

Here’s a video I’ve made to show you Strayhorn’s original harmonies in some key places, most notably in the final measure of the tune:

Journey Through The Real Book #222: Lush Life

In addition to learning the original chords, pay particular attention to the various pianistic textures I use throughout my performance. A tune such as “Lush Life’ really lends itself well to Ellington-like diminished voicings, melodic left-hand countermelodies, and a myriad of solo piano ballad techniques.

Have fun trying these out when interpreting the song yourself!


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