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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Thank You Uncle Edward

Renma 6400CD



1. Perdido
2. Pretty Woman
3. Caravan
4. Mainstem
5. Day Dream
6. Toe Tickler
7. Isfahan
8. Cottontail
9. Moon Mist
10. In a Sentimental Mood
11. Come Sunday


Edward Kennedy Ellington II - Guitar
Norman Simmons - Piano
Virginia Mayhew - Tenor sax
Nancy Reed - Vocals
Joe Temperley - Bass clarinet, baritone sax
Wycliffe Gordon - Trombone
Mark McGowan - Trumpet
Tom Dicarlo - Bass
Paul Wells - Drums  

Edward Kennedy Ellington II is the grandson of Duke Ellington, even though he called the Duke "Uncle" because Duke felt too young to be described as a grandfather. Anyway, the grandson/nephew is a guitarist who wanted to pay tribute to his famous relative and formed the Duke Ellington Legacy with help from saxophonist Virginia Mayhew. Virginia arranged some tunes on this album but the main arranger is pianist Norman Simmons. The arrangements are often imaginative, as in the opening Perdido, where the phrasing puts a new slant on the old tune. In a Sentimental Mood is likewise given a new mood with some Latin-American rhythms.

Edward stays mainly in the background and only plays a short guitar solo on Pretty Woman. The real stars are bandleader Virginia Mayhew, who holds the proceedings together with a firm hand while contributing some memorable tenor-sax solos, and pianist-arranger Norman Simmons. Joe Temperley and Wycliffe Gordon are not regular members of the group but they enhance the session considerably. Wycliffe's trombone is as mischievous and unpredictable as ever. Joe Temperley's baritone sax is eloquent on such tunes as Moon Mist and Come Sunday.

Paul Wells ups the excitement with his drum solos on tracks like Perdido and Toe Tickler (composed by Virginia Mayhew - the only non-Ellingtonian tune on the album). Virginia actually dedicated Toe Tickler to one of her cats, who is named Lester Young after the famous tenorist who composed Tickle Toe for Count Basie's band. Nancy Reed's vocals contain the occasional echo of Annie Ross, especially in the vocalese of Cottontail.

Some "tributes" to particular musicians are hardly more than rip-offs, but the performances here take a refreshing new look at some Ellington tunes in the context of a swinging small group.

Tony Augarde






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