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Basic Black; Ron Gill Celebrates Billy Strayhorn


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Basic Black
Ron Gill Celebrates Billy Strayhorn
Program Number


Series Description

THe series was formerly known as Say Brother. Series title change as of 1/8/1998. This series is black produced and is one of public television's longest-running series that is rooted in and reflects the culture, concerns, achievements and history of people of African descent. Also includes controversial issues, African American artists, and events of special interest to the African American community.

Series release date: 1/8/1998

Program Description

See also assets for the CD: Ron Gill: The Songs of Billy Strayhorn

A co-production of Basic Black and 89.7 WGBH Radio. Ron Gill performs live for an audience in Studio A.

WGBH television and radio come together on June 18, when ’GBH/89.7fm host and jazz vocalist Ron Gill performs on BASIC BLACK. Recorded in WGBH’s Allston television studio, Gill and his ensemble perform the songs of long-time Duke Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn.

Gill, host of ’GBH/89.7fm’s Jazz Gallery, sings selections from his new CD Ron Gill: The Songs of Billy Strayhorn (WGBH Radio). The first recorded compilation of the songs of Billy Strayhorn performed by a jazz singer, Ron Gill: The Songs of Billy Strayhorn is a culmination of Gill’s twenty-year search for Strayhorn songs.

Recorded before a live audience, this BASIC BLACK features Gill and his quartet (Manny Williams, piano; Reid Jorgensen, drums; Ron Mahdi, bass; John Stein, guitar; and Bill Thompson, reeds and flute) performing Strayhorn compositions like Satin Doll, Lush Life, Grievin’, Maybe, My Little Brown Book, and I’m Checkin’ Out, Goom Bye. Gill talks to BASIC BLACK host Darren Duarte about his career and his fascination with Strayhorn’s music. "Billy’s material has so much depth and meaning," says Gill. "His writing is so different from the usual standard songwriter. For a musician, particularly a vocalist, Billy’s songs are unique and difficult to perform."

Gill has been part of the Boston jazz scene for more than thirty years, performing in concerts and on radio, television and variety shows. Associated with The Manny Williams Trio, Gill sings jazz standards and show tunes, highlighting an impressive knowledge of the American songbook. In the mid-70’s, Gill toured New England with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, directed by Mercer Ellington. Gill joined ’GBH Radio as a host of Jazz Gallery in 1989.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Chicago: “Basic Black; Ron Gill Celebrates Billy Strayhorn,” 06/18/1998, GBH Archives, accessed February 25, 2024,
MLA: “Basic Black; Ron Gill Celebrates Billy Strayhorn.” 06/18/1998. GBH Archives. Web. February 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Basic Black; Ron Gill Celebrates Billy Strayhorn. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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