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June 2001

Martial Solal Dodecaband
Martial Solal Dodecaband Plays Ellingtion
Dreyfus Records

Because pianist-bandleader Martial Solal chose to release his extended ensemble tribute to Ellington after 1999's centennial hoopla, the six witty arrangements of Ellington and Ellington/Strayhorn classics heard on Dodecaband Plays Ellington can be enjoyed in a kind of relative solitude-and there is much to relish on this collection.

For while Solal's interpretations of Ellington-band evergreens such as "Caravan" keep the harmonic and melodic intentions in the rearview mirror, the now unabashedly swinging, now stop-time arrangement also allows us to savor the crisp ensemble work of Solal's "kids in the band" (to quote Ellington). This infectious marriage of reverence and invention is also present in the ballad "In a Sentimental Mood," where Solal's piano and the group's tumbling phrasing infuse the title with a tender, romantic feel to help sooth our stress-laden age.

Those individuals seeking pure, unfettered Ellingtonia would do better seeking the original, but if you are interested in the work of Solal and in hearing how versatile these seemingly familiar classics still are, go no further than this disc.

Originally published in June 2001
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