Chelsea Bridge

Ben Webster

A London bridge shrouded in mist

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Bill Strayhorn wrote this one.


Ben Webster, tenor sax
Buck Clayton, trumpet
Vic Dickenson, trombone
Hank Jones, piano
George Duvivier, bass
Jo Jones, drums

Strayhorn got his inspiration for this one not from the London bridge by the same name, but from a painting by Turner of the Battersea Bridge.

This and other Strayhorn tunes were licensed by BMI which was formed as a protest by radio stations against ASCAP which announced it was raising its radio broadcast fees (something never change.)

Radio stations announced a total ban on ASCAP music so Ellington had his son Mercer and Bill Strayhorn come up with a whole new songbook.

“A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” “Rain Check,” “Passion Flower,” and “Chelsea Bridge” came from this era. So did “Take the ‘A’ Train” the sketches of which were originally thrown in the garbage as unworkable.

I guess this is a case where music industry greed generated a good outcome.


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