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David Matthews and the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra: Hey Duke!

At the time of this 1999 recording, originally made for VideoArts (apparently a Japanese label), pianist and arranger Matthews’ Manhattan Jazz Orchestra was observing its 10th anniversary. The year also coincided with the Duke Ellington centennial, so Matthews decided to add his tribute to the celebration. The album, however, owes more to Gil Evans’ arranging style than to Ellington’s (although Ellington and Evans are closely related).

Matthews writes with a flair for drama, brassy colors and original harmony. Seven of the album’s eight tunes are Ellington compositions, with “Song for Edward” being the lone Matthews original. The band includes four trumpets, four trombones, two French horns, tuba, three reeds, piano, bass and drums. Christine Sperry, an opera singer, appears on “Come Sunday.”

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