Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Jazz cello? Normally saved for various incarnations of jazz orchestra but string diva Akua Dixon strips down the ensemble size and creates a Duke Ellington inspired work that includes some exciting cameos and some standards that are reinvented for a somewhat more contemporary feel of some old friends. The arrangements elevate the release along with some cameo appearances thanks to Regina Carter, Kenny Davis and violin virtuoso John Blake Jr. Make your calendar for the street date of Jan. 15th, 2015!
Don't be confused, Dixon's string quartet doesn't necessarily work the chamber jazz side of the street but they do deconstruct pieces such as "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Moon River." The opening tune is a smoking version of the Charles Mingus classic "Haitian Fight Song." The tunes are at times eclectic however this adds to a fresh and vibrant approach that this formidable 4tet would seem to feed on. Standards such as "Lush Life" and "Poinciana" are arranged with great care and executed with even greater success.
Akua Dixon is certainly a pioneer and visionary in her own right as ensembles such as this and larger jazz orchestras would seem to be predominately a male dominated setting, till now.
A tremendous recording that richly deserves serious consideration by critics across the globe.