Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra: Ellington Celebration

Co-directed by reedman Miles Osland and pianist/narrator Dick Domek, the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra is, to my knowledge, the only academically-situated ensemble perpetuating the whole spectrum of Ellington’s music, from the 1920s through the 1970s; from the obscure gems to the hits. As a performing jazz educator, Osland is no stranger to the jazz press, but this is the first time that we have heard his efforts in support of earlier jazz traditions, and it has to be said that he is doing a remarkably good job. Using five trumpets, three trombones, five saxes and a full rhythm section on a program of charts transcribed by Domek, David Berger, Gunther Schuller, Mark Lopeman, Alan Campbell and Raleigh Dailey, Osland leads his highly skilled crew through 22 tracks. Such faithfully recreated numbers include “Stevedore Stomp,” “Black And Tan Fantasy” (in both 1927 and 1945 versions), “The Mooche,” “Portrait Of Louis Armstrong” (featuring guest trumpet soloist Vince DiMartino) and “Prelude To A Kiss” (in the 1957 rescoring showcasing Osland in the role of Johnny Hodges). Although the full personnel listing is provided, no identification is made of any soloists other than those just cited; hardly a policy designed to encourage gifted graduate students and/or faculty members.