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John Brown Trio: Dancing With Duke: An Homage To Duke Ellington

Edward Blanco By

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The history of jazz would not be complete without an understanding of just how influential Duke Ellington was to its development. North Carolina bassist John Brown appreciates the impact Edward Kennedy Ellington has had on American music, especially jazz, and offers his own tribute to the icon on Dancing with Duke: An Homage to Duke Ellington. Along with New Orleans drumming sensation Adonis Rose and the incomparable pianist Cyrus Chestnut, the John Brown Trio delves deeply into the Ellington song book and emerges with eight of the master's most notable compositions, bolstered by Juan Tizol's classic "Perdido" and Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing."

Though Brown has known Chestnut and Rose since his touring days with Elvin Jones in the early '90s, this is their very first recording date together, and what an encounter it turns out to be. "In A Mellow Tone" starts the music rolling with a solid, relaxed rhythm, guided by Brown, and Chestnut's light left-hand chording. The music perks up on the following "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me," featuring a good deal of strong bass lines energizing the piece. Brown introduces "Pie Eye's Blues" to the drummer's steady drum beats on a number that many may not recognize as an Ellington staple.

The centerpiece of the album is clearly the three-part "Sweet Ballad Suite," which features Strayhorn's somber "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing," drenched by Rose cymbal accents, Brown's legato bass and Chestnut's tranquil chords. The familiar "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" and lyrical, slow-tempo'd "Solitude"—showcasing Brown's superb arco work—rounds out the suite and the ballad portion of the set.

The oft-recorded "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" is, perhaps, the defining swing piece of the album, with the trio swinging the melody and adding fine solos for a memorable finale. Dancing with Duke: An Homage to Duke Ellington is Brown's sophomore disc and an impressive second effort at that. With stellar musicianship from world-class players and fresh treatments of select jazz standards from the Ellington songbook, this is one swinging tribute of which the Duke would surely have approved.

Track Listing: In A Mellow Tone; Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me; Perdido; Pie Eye's Blues; Isfahan; I'm Beginning To See The Light; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good); Solitude; It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing).

Personnel: John Brown: bass; Cyrus Chestnut: piano; Adonis Rose: drums.

Title: Dancing With Duke: An Homage To Duke Ellington | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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