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Steve Hancoff: The Single Petal of a Rose

Steve Hancoff uses an acoustic guitar on The Single Petal of a Rose (Out of Time), but his tone is more of the down-home variety. Hancoff’s second trip to the Ellington well, following a like recording from 1999, sees him dust off another crop of less-championed, early Duke works, and fingerpicks them to death.

Hancoff did painstaking work to transcribe lines from these old records, most of them nabbed from Duke’s late-’20s OKeh recordings (“Misty Morning,” “Move Over,” “After All,” etc.). And arranging them for a single instrument is another daunting task accomplished, indeed. But his country-folk touch, not to mention the reverb-soaked tone, doesn’t serve the elegance of Ellington’s pen so well. Hancoff has a lot of plucking to do to measure up to the composer’s ambitious arrangements, which renders the sound more cluttered than courtly. It may be a great study for students of fingerpicked guitar-Hancoff’s skills are unquestionably advanced-but for Duke-o-philes looking to swing, it’s not so hot.

Originally Published