“Strange Visitor” is one of the songs in the “Serenade To Sweden” album. It is a song that Alice Babs herself wrote (“possibly already in the early 50’s”, she have said) and Babs used it, among others, for improvising at the piano when she had her first rehearsal with Duke after arriving in Paris.
Apparently, Ellington liked it a lot and he insisted that it should be included in the recording and that Babs should not only sing it but also play the piano.
However, both Ellington and Strayhorn gave it a try before the final take with Alice alone with the piano was recorded.
At one point, Duke asks “You are tired. Wanna go home?” Yes, Babs was tired but she wanted to finish the job and gave us a wonderful rendition of the song.
The visitors of the website now get the opportunity to listen to the different takes of “Strange Visitor” recorded in the early morning of March 2, 1963 in the Hoche Studio in Paris.
In the first one, Duke plays the piano and it is as if he tries out the piece; then comes two takes with Billy Strayhorn at the piano accompanied by Gilbert Rovere (b) and Peter Giger or Kenny Clarke (dr). He plays it in a more elaborate way than Duke.
Finally, there is the take with Alice alone. This is the one included in the LP.
In-between the full takes, there are some incomplete ones. This is why the discographies list a total of seven takes – two with Ellington and Babs, four with Strayhorn and Babs and one with Babs alone.