Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

CBSO Conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
Recorded 1999, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK
EMI Classics CDC5 57014 2 B

Lena Horne, Clark Terry - Trumpet
Bobby Watson - Alto, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano - Tenor
Regina Carter - Violin, Gerri Allen - Piano
Peter Washington - Bass, Lewis Nash - Drums
Arrangements and Orchestrations - Luther Henderson.

  1. Take the A Train
  2. You're the One
  3. Sophisticated Lady
  4. Harlem
  5. Isfahan
  6. Ad Lib on Nippon
  7. That Doo-Wah Thing
  8. Someone to Live For
  9. Come Sunday
  10. Solitude in Transblucency
  11. Maybe
  12. Thing Ain't what they Used to Be

What a magnificent Album, who says jazz and classics don't mix, this is pure delight from start to finish!

Kicking off with a monumental Take the A Train, featuring all the soloists and this superb orchestra, is the right way to get off to a superb start and surprise, surprise, the whole thing swings. Full marks to Luther Henderson for the score and to Sir Simon Rattle for the direction.

Lena Horne sings as only she can on the next track You're the One and there is some superlative Tenor playing from Joshua Redman demonstrating just how mature a musician he now is.

Sophisticated Lady is my all time favourite Ellington tune and it features another master of the saxophone Bobby Watson, who makes it all sound so easy. Anyone, who thinks it is easy, should try improvising around his sequence!

Harlem (A tone parallel to Harlem) was originally scored by the Duke for his Band and later adapted by Luther Henderson, for the Band to play in Concert Grasso form with a Symphony Orchestra.

Isfahan and Ad Lib Nippon are from the Ellington/Strayhorn Far East suite, the first features Peter Walden on Cor Anglais and Bobby Watson on Alto, the second Gerri Allen on Piano and Colin Parr on Clarinet. The scoring, as it is throughout the album is superb on these two tracks, I can find no praise high enough for the work of Luther Henderson. Mention must also be made of drummer Lewis Nash, who succeeds in making everything swing.

  The Doo-Wah Thing is an adaptation by Luther Henderson of It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got that Swing. Once again all the soloists are featured and all respond the task excellently.

Lena Horne returns for Something to Live For, this track also features Joe Levano on Tenor.

Come Sunday is from the Black Brown and Beige Suite and it shows the brilliant CBSO strings to perfection, the soloists this time are Regina Carter and Clark Terry.

Solitude in Transblucency is a combination of the two Dukal compositions contained in the title.

Lena Horn's singing is as delightful as ever on Maybe, this time Bobby Watson is the soloist.

The finale is a blues composition, Things Ain't What They Used to Be, by the Duke's son Mercer Ellington, it has features for everyone, but Clark Terry steals the show, he always does!

This album is musical enjoyment of the very best, if you had asked me would this combination work, I would have been doubtful. When you listen however, you find that it works magnificently, whatever your taste in music. If you can't enjoy this, you are missing out on a whole lot. The star of the whole show has to be Luther Henderson, his ability to handle the scoring, so that musicians from different musical backgrounds, can feel comfortable and enjoy playing, is the work of a genius.

Don Mather

Reviews from previous months

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