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Jabbo Ware: Vignettes in the Spirit of Ellington

James Jabbo Ware has been leading the Me We & Them Orchestra since 1973. Vignettes in the Spirit of Ellington is the 13-piece band’s first live recording, for which it was augmented by two French horns and a string section.

The CD is aptly named. The use of J.D. Parran’s clarinet in “And Here We Are Again” evokes Barney Bigard’s role in the Ellington band. “Don’t Forget Who I Am” includes a section scored for an Ellingtonlike clarinet, muted trumpet and trombone combination. And “Saint Louis Train” actually incorporates motives from Duke’s “Happy Go Lucky Local” (known later as “Night Train”). More generally, Ware’s music sometimes focuses on creating a mood or ambiance, as in parts of “Intro #1 (In the Beginning),” which, in classical circles, might be called “program music.” Surprisingly, in the midst of all that is “Give Me a Moment,” which is essentially a rock ballad featuring the fine tenorist Paavo Carey and a lush string ensemble. The program closes with a long, slow, gospel-filled blues that gives seven soloists a chance to step up.

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