Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Single Petal Of A Rose Duke Ellington Legacy 2012

The talent level of the Duke Ellington Legacy is at time breathtaking when examining the work of Ellington and creative partner the incomparable Billy Strayhorn. Single Petal Of A Rose is a nine piece ensemble with that nice jazz orchestra feel that has the ability to elevate tunes such as "In A Mellow Tone" and "Lush Life" to multi-dimensional tunes of dynamic yet subtle intricacy breathing new life into the Ellington discography. Single Petal Of A Rose in no way is an attempt to replicate a sound that comes along once every hundred years or so and it is not a tribute band in as much as it is an acknowledgement of the Ellington influence on musicians today.

While founded by Ellington's grandson Edward Kennedy Ellington II, there is a fresh and uniquely artistic approach used to perfection by the younger Ellington, a true sonic explatory that takes shape throughout the recording which includes tenor saxophone legend Houston Person as a special guest. Essentially this is Duke Ellington but with a slightly more introverted contemporary twist without losing any of the original Ellington swing that revolutionized music in general and jazz in particular. Hitting on gorgeous ballads, hard charging swing, and sultry vocals there is the Ellington sound but with a distinct sense of urgency and lyrical direction do largely in part to the elegant musical direction of tenor saxophonist Virginia Mayhew.

Opening and closing with musical bookend of solo piano with "Single Petal" and "Lotus Blossom" while a bit risky as there is no place to hide with solo piano work, Norman Simmons gives a master class for fledgling pianists and Ellington fans alike. "Happy Go Lucky" is where the release begins to take flight with guest artists Houston Person who again appears on "In My Solitude" and "In A Mellow Tone" amid other Ellington favorites.

A review much like this recording can not necessarily be looked in the typical fashion. You never review genius, you simply pay tribute. In the case of the Duke Ellington Legacy, you celebrate genius with respect and acknowledge. Beautiful melodies, original swing and rich vocals are all part of what has and to this very day makes Duke Ellington one of the true artistic geniuses of jazz. The Ellington influence will continue to live on and this may be the greatest testament of all. An absolutely terrific release and a true sleeper for 2012.

Tracks: Dedication; Single Petal Of A Rose; Happy Go Lucky Local; In My Solitude; Johnny Come Lately; Home Grown; Blood Count; In A Mellow Tone; Upper Manhattan Medical Group; Squeeze Me; Lush Life; After Hours; Love You Madly; Lotus Blossom.

Personnel: Edward Kennedy Ellington II: guitar; Norman Simmons: piano; Houston Person: tenor saxophone; Virginia Mayhew: tenor saxophone; Jami Dauber: trumpet; Noah Bless: trombone; Tom Di Carlo: bass; Paul Wells: drums; Sheila Earley: percussion; Nancy Reed: vocals.