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January/February 2000

Ellis Marsalis
Duke in Blue
Columbia Jazz

While some of his sons have received more than considerable attention from both the jazz press and other forms of media, the regrettable fact is that Ellis Marsalis' abilities as a pianist have gone largely unnoticed. Perhaps, though, this solo collection of Ellington songs, ranging from the romping to the ruminative, might tend to redress the imbalance of credit due. Produced by son Delfeayo Marsalis, the program consists of familiar standards, such as "Just Squeeze Me," "Caravan," "Prelude to a Kiss," and "Sophisticated Lady," some less frequently heard pieces-"The Mooche," Johnny Hodges' "Squatty Roo," "Drop Me Off in Harlem," "Reflections In D," and "Melancholia"-and his own "Duke in Blue." The elder Marsalis opts for a fairly unadorned stylistic approach, one that eschews glib virtuosity for meaningful, swinging statement and is always respectful of tradition.

Originally published in January/February 2000
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