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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Crotchet
SECRET ELLINGTON
Previously Unrecorded Compositions By Duke Ellington
Lyrics By Herb Martin
Featuring:
Eric Alexander, Joe Beck, Steve Berrios, Keith Carlock, Freddy Cole, Mark Fletcher, Chip Jackson, Bob Kindred, Joe Locke, Joe Lovano, Lou Marini, George Mraz, Karen Oberlin, Arturo O'Farrill, James Pearson, Michael Pope, Ian Shaw, Judi Silvano, Jeffrey Smith, Grover Washington Jr.
Recorded 1999-2001 NYC.

True Life Entertainment TLE 100002

 

 



1. You Are Beautiful
2. They Say
3. This Man
4. Only Yesterday
5. Only Yesterday
7. I Like Singing
8. New Shoes
9. I Am Lonely
10. You Are Beautiful
11. I Get Lonely For A Plaything
12. You Walk In My Dreams
13. Big White Mountain
14. My Home Lies Quiet

The songs contained in this issue have a fascinating history. They were originally composed by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Herb Martin to form the basis of a Broadway show entitled "Saturday Laughter, or The Man Beneath". Duke finished the tunes and went off on tour, when he returned from Europe in November 1958 he was to discover that the producers had failed to raise the finance for the musical and the score was subsequently shelved and finally forgotten. In 1999 13 of these songs were revitalised from sketchy lead sheets and a low quality tape provided by the lyricist. Over the next two years these tunes were recorded at several sessions using a wide variety of performers. The results can be heard on this magnificent disc.

The songs themselves are uniformly strong, in the style of Ellington's more standard or "popular" repertoire. There are outstanding performances from so many players that it is hard to choose examples without feeling that one is doing a disservice to the other tracks through neglect. The vocals are all excellent, Ian Shaw is particularly effective on the up-tempo opener while Judi Silvano works most sympathetically with her husband Joe Lovano on "I Am Lonely." My personal favourites, after many listenings, have to be the numbers sung by Freddy Cole.

Instrumentally Joe Locke plays with great taste on the vibes adding another colour to the pieces on which he appears without being obtrusive. The saxophone players are all top class, Bob Kindred producing a warm tone and great feeling for the idiom, whilst Eric Alexander really swings on the first track. Joe Lovano's sound is like a fine wine with just a hint of dryness - it is instantly identifiable as was the sound of any true Ellingtonian. Perhaps the most moving performance, for several reasons, is that of Grover Washington Jr. playing soprano saxophone on "They Say". There is a very pensive and at times wistful quality to his interpretation of the number, made doubly poignant as this must have been one of his last recordings.

This disc is an absolute must for any follower of the Duke. It is also an essential purchase for anyone who enjoys modern mainstream Jazz.

Dick Stafford

 



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