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Chicago Jazz Ensemble: Conducted by William Russo

Chicago Jazz Ensemble founder and conductor William Russo, a former Kenton composer-arranger, reunited his 1965-founded, 20-musician professional repertory orchestra for a 1991 Chicago Jazz Fest performance and they’ve since been going strong in residence at Columbia College. Among 10 (mostly Ellington) selections of their commercial recording debut, highlights include Russo’s two originals, the vibrant five-movement Windy City vista, “Chicago Suite No. 1” and his venturesome “Horn Blower” (written for trumpet soloist Orbert Davis). Cynthia Felker, one of four vocalists, lends her luxuriant voice to a tune from Ellington’s suite, “Black, Brown, Beige,” “Mauve (The Blues).” Russo’s fine composing skills, virtuosic soloists, and dynamic section work establish the CJE as a world-class jazz orchestra.

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