March 1997

Dee Dee Bridgewater and The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
Prelude to a Kiss: The Duke Ellington Album
Philips

Do we really need another reworking of the Ellington oeuvre? Enough already. Ellington gets nearly as much attention as John F. Kennedy, Jr. Even the considerable talents of Bobby Watson, Charles McPherson, Cyrus Chestnut, and Wynton Marsalis, don't necessarily justify the present effort. While there are moments of orchestral and individual swing, there are also arid and torpid passages. The long instrumental "Night Creature" illustrates this dual tendency. "Prelude to a Kiss" summoned lassitude in this listener, "Solitude" even more so. I like Bridgewater's vocals on "Caravan" and "Bli-Blip," and Bobby Watson's alto sax on "Midnight Indigo." Watson is also on "Fleurette Africaine." "Bli-Blip is arranged and conducted by Slide Hampton and the alto sax solo is by McPherson. "Caravan" has Steve Turre on shells, Hassan Hakmoun on percussion, and Vincent Nguini on guitar. Bridgewater opens the tune with a kind of tribal chanting. John Mauceri conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Originally published in March 1997
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