Jed Levy Quintet: Mood Ellington

Tenorist/flutist Jed Levy’s Mood Ellington can be both admired and enjoyed for its imaginative reworkings of some lesser-known Duke Ellington compositions, all performed with skill and affection by a stellar quintet. The only well-known tune among them is “Mood Indigo,” and it receives an appealing reharmonization. The rest of the well-balanced program consists of relatively unfamiliar pieces such as “Action in Alexandria,” “Circle of Fourths” and “Dancers in Love.”

Although pianist Bill Mays does occasionally inject a few Dukeisms, such as the brief stride passages in “New World A-Comin'” and a few Duke-like runs in other spots, but for the most part the improvisations are the kind soloists would play in more conventional contexts–though are all of the first order. Levy possesses an attractive tone and overall approach more like those of Joe Henderson or Joe Lovano than of many of his Coltrane-oriented contemporaries, and trumpeter Jack Walrath projects a personal style nearly devoid of cliches. Drummer Jeff Brillinger and bassist Martin Wind play their roles expertly.