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Ab Baars: Kinda Dukish

Dutch tenor saxophonist/ clarinetist Ab Baars’ “adaptations” of 10 Duke Ellington tunes render the source material almost unrecognizable, which ain’t a bad thing, at least in this case–the more oblique the reference, the fresher the result. Baars tackles lesser-known Ellington compositions (“Portrait of Wellman Braud” and “Aristocracy a la Jean Lafitte” among them) and some chestnuts (“Solitude,” “Caravan,” “Perdido,” “Prelude to a Kiss”) with respect, not idolatry. His original take on Ellington makes most other dead-hero tributes seem downright plagiaristic.

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