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Jerry van Rooijen's Dutch Jazz Orchestra continues its exploration of the work of Billy Strayhorn. But on this release, the group looks at another side of Strayhorn, his considerable arranging skills. And arranging, after all, was what he was called upon to do the most of with the Duke Ellington Orchestras, as well as serving as composer and sit in pianist. Of the 14 cuts on the play list - - all standards - - only one was ever recorded by Ellington commercially and that was "Where or When" and that as an instrumental. Here the Orchestra uses the original vocal version with Marjorie Barnes doing the vocalizing. Other arrangements were put to disk from radio broadcasts. But eight have never been recorded in any form, anywhere and now are heard for the first time. Toon Roos delivers an especially lyrical solo on tenor. As the first measures come out of the speaker, you can hear and feel the ghosts of Ellington's great aggregations as they played at their many one night stand dance dates and concerts that constantly crowded the Duke's schedule. Packed with exceptional performers, one can almost match player by player the personnel of this band with that of Ellington's. On "The Man I Love" Martijn Sohier recalls Lawrence Brown, and John Ruocco's clarinet produces images of Jimmy Hamilton on "I've Got the World on a String". Under Van Rooijen's leadership, the Dutch musicians have captured the essence of Duke Ellington as expressed through the Strayhorn charts while at the same time putting their distinctive imprimatur on the music. If this CD doesn't show up on many ten best of 2002 lists, we've all gone tone deaf. Recommended. Although it's mostly in Dutch, I was able to determine from the orchestra's web page at www.dutchjazz.nl, that more Strayhorn projects are in the works to be released by the Challenge label. So keep your eyes and ears open.
Track Listing: Autumn in New York; Where or When; The Man I Love; I'll Remember April; I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance; Moon River; Lover Man; You Go to My Head; Night and Day; Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man; I'll Buy That Dream; Skylark; I've Got the World on a String; Yesterdays
Personnel: Jerry van Rooyen - Leader; Billy Strayhorn - Arranger; Ack van Rooyen - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Jan Oosthof, Ruud Breuls, Peter van Soest, Jan Hollander, Jan Wessels - Trumpet; Martijn Sohier, Ilja Reijngoud, Hansj