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Cynthia Felton: Come Sunday: The Music of Duke Ellington (2010)

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Cynthia Felton: Come Sunday: The Music of Duke Ellington How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Dr. Cynthia Felton made quite the splash with her self-produced debut, Afro Blue: The Music of Oscar Brown, Jr. (2009). In the spirit of well-assembled theme recordings like Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson

vocalist
's Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (Concord, 2001) and Todd Bishop
Todd Bishop
Todd Bishop
b.1967
drums
's Pop Art 4 disc, 69 Annee Erotique, Afro Blue is a solid look at a master's craft of writing lyrics for jazz pieces.

Felton treads more familiar territory on Come Sunday: The Music of Duke Ellington, undertaking the project with an embarrassment of supporting artist riches that features Felton in several different format contexts, from bass/voice duet to little big band. In all formats, Felton swings effortlessly, and she comes out swinging on the opening "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing," singing wide-open with no governor. She is joined by pianist Patrice Rushen
Patrice Rushen
Patrice Rushen
b.1954
keyboard
, bassist Tony Dumas
Tony Dumas
Tony Dumas
b.1955
, and irrepressible drummer Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
. Felton scats capably, but saves her chops for later.

"Caravan" features studied pianist Cyrus Chestnut
Cyrus Chestnut
Cyrus Chestnut
b.1963
piano
, bassist Robert Hurst III
Robert Hurst III
Robert Hurst III
b.1964
bass
, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts
Jeff
Jeff "Tain" Watts
b.1960
drums
. Watts lays down layers of rhythmic humus, over which the band and Felton stroll barefooted. Wallace Roney
Wallace Roney
Wallace Roney
b.1960
trumpet
provides beautiful open-bell trumpet, augmented by tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts
Ernie Watts
Ernie Watts
b.1945
reeds
. Watts and Hurst take striking solo turns on a Juan Tizol
Juan Tizol
Juan Tizol
1900 - 1984
trombone
composition made for rhythm sections. Watts stretches, sharing space with master percussionist Munyoungo Jackson.

Felton is most compelling in the small space of a duo. "In A Mellow Tone" is driven by Ryan Cross' informed bass, the two extending the reductionist language investigated by Lawrence Lebo and Denny Croy on Don't Call Her Larry, Volume 3: American Roots (On the Air, 2004), into the same sexy stratospheric realm that Ellington always went. Felton and Chestnut share a moment on a most lush "Lush Life," illustrating the artistic soul that was and is Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
.

There is not a throw-away song on this collection; durable is the Ellington songbook, as evidenced here and on John Pizzarelli
John Pizzarelli
John Pizzarelli
b.1960
guitar
's recent Rockin' in Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington (Telarc, 2010). Felton emerges fully formed with very specific ideas about jazz; she is on a roll, and it will be fun to see what she has in store next.

Track Listing: It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing; Caravan; In A Sentimental Mood; In A Mellow Tone; Lush Life; Perdido; Come Sunday; Take The A Train; I Got It Bad; Sophisticated Lady; I'm Beginning To See The Light; Duke's Place (C Jam Blues); Prelude To A Kiss.

Personnel: Cynthia Felton: vocals; Patrice Rushen: piano (1, 8, 12, 13); Cyrus Chestnut: piano ( 2, 5, 7); Donald Brown: piano (3, 6, 9, 10); John Beasley: piano (11); Tony Dumas: bass (1, 8, 12, 13); Robert Hurst: bass (2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10); Ryan Cross: bass (4); John B. Williams: bass (11); Terry Lynn Carrington; drums (1, 8, 12, 13); Jeff Tain Watts: drums (2, 7); Yoron Israel: drums (3, 6, 9, 10); Lorca Hart: drums (11); Ronald Muldrow: guitar (3, 6, 11); Wallace Roney: trumpet (2, 8, 9); Nolan Saheed: trumpet (12); Ernie Watts: tenor saxophone (2, 11); Jeff Clayton: alto saxophone (6, 9, 12); Munyoungo Jackson: percussion (2, 3, 8); Carol Robbins: harp (13).

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Vocal


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