The Duke Ellington Legacy

The Duke Ellington Legacy

The Duke Ellington Legacy

Single Petal of a Rose

Renma Records

Duke Ellington’s been gone a long time, but his spirit and style live on in the form of The Duke Ellington Legacy, a nine-piece band led by his grandson Edward Ellington II. It’s an amazing recreation; while the sounds and themes are classic Ellington, the recording technology has caught up with the modern era.

Ellington’s sound is founded in modern jazz. He stands in the gap between the WWII big band sound and the dissonant atonalism of the cool/bebop crowd. As befits the jazz world, extensive cover notes detail everyone who solos on every cut. Jazz and baseball have a similar fascination with statistics and minor players, not that this is Minor League sound. These cuts all stand firmly in the field of the well-conceived, well executed professionalism of Duke Senior. Nearly all the tracks here are Ellington compositions, rearranged in subtle ways that might not be obvious to the casual listener.

The title track has in interesting history as part of The Queen’s Suite. According to the liner notes, only one copy of this 1959 composition was pressed as a gift to Queen Elizabeth, and the agreement was not to release it during her lifetime. I guess the wait stayed on Edward II’s mind, as he’s covered it and it’s wonderful. I hope she pulls it out occasionally and gives it a spin.

The single non-Ellington track here is the classic “After Hours.” It’s an iconic track with saxophone punctuation, a slow meander in rhythm, and the sort of vibe that makes you think “…hey, this jazz thing might just catch on!” This collection gets very high marks for the Mad-Men-age coolness. You can’t do better than the Ellington clan to entertain your cocktail buddies as you live out the fantasy lives of your grandparents.

Duke Ellington Experience: •

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