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Mark Masters Ensemble: Ellington Saxophone Encounters

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Mark Masters is an accomplished arranger who comes up with hip, unusual ideas for jazz concerts and recordings, such as repertoire by Steely Dan and Dewey Redman. His new album contains compositions by Ellington’s saxophonists: Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Ben Webster and Harry Carney. All the tunes sound like they could have been written by Ellington, which is of course a compliment. Three list Duke as co-composer.

Besides the tunes, what’s to like about this album are the arrangements, their execution by a suave West Coast octet, and Gary Smulyan (which, come to think of it, is almost everything). Smulyan is the only East Coast player here, and the featured soloist.

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