Thank You, Duke!
This compilation contains moments of genuine inspiration (Joanne Brackeen's abstract solo piano performance of "Sophisticated Lady" and Benny Golson's lovely, embellished reading of "Mood Indigo") plus a high level of artistry and craftsmanship from all hands. Billy Taylor's solo piano performance of "In a Sentimental Mood" integrates melody and improvisation in an orderly, through-composed manner. T.K. Blue (on soprano saxophone) and Randy Weston play "A Chromatic Love Affair" with fitting reminders of the Ellington-Thelonious Monk-Weston piano connection.
Ellington's compositions provide the thematic glue that holds this collection together. The liner notes consist of written tributes by the participants. "(Ellington) inspires me because of his diversity," Jorris Teepe says. The Ray Brown-like Dutch bassist contributes a swinging, live quintet track: "The Feeling of Jazz" catches tenor saxophonist Chris Potter in thoughtful, exciting form.
Other performances include "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" (Golson), "Day Dream" (Blue, on alto, leading a quartet), "Isfahan" (the Joe Henderson Project, a quintet that includes vibist Steve Nelson and trumpeter Terrell Stafford), "In a Sentimental Mood" (tenor man Harold Land with strings), and "Come Sunday" (Brackeen). Mission accomplished, artfully.