Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Vienna Art Orchestra: Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

In the spring of 1999, the Vienna Art Orchestra toured Europe, performing its arrangements of music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Fortunately, it chose to celebrate Duke’s legacy by resurrecting some lesser-known gems and recasting the familiar standards in unfamiliar ways.

The program begins with two pieces you won’t find in any fakebook. “Red Garter,” one of Duke’s 1958 exercises in exotica, opens with a solo clarinet statement that leads into a call-and-response between brass and reeds, capped by a muted trumpet solo from Bumi Fian. As the rhythm section drops out, the piece ends dramatically with the horns playing in ethereal counterpoint. “Very Special” is a blues built around cascading riffs that provide punctuation for a scorching soprano sax solo by Harry Sokal. Other obscure pages from the book of Ellington include the tambourine-driven “Smada,” with its astonishing French horn solo by the Russian virtuoso Arkady Shilkloper, and “Circle in Fourth,” featuring a biting baritone solo by Herwig Gradischnig.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.