194

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

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
John Brown: Dancing With Duke: An Homage To Duke Ellington The cover photo for this album is a bit misleading. John Brown stands with his left forearm pressed against a shiny black piano and the album title—Dancing With Duke: An Homage To Duke Ellington—resides, clear as day, in the upper right hand portion of the cover. If not for the personnel list, which almost blends into the side of the piano and lists pianist Cyrus Chestnut's name right under Brown, those unfamiliar with the bassist might assume he were tickling the ivories here.

Brown boasts an impressive résumé, having worked with Elvin Jones, various members of the Marsalis clan, and vocalist Nnenna Freelon on her Grammy-nominated Shaking Free (Concord, 1996), but his work as a sideman, actor, jazz educator, and producer, has left him little time to pursue his own recording projects. Dancing With Duke: An Homage To Duke Ellington is his third release, following Terms Of Art-A Tribute To Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers (Self Produced, 2007) and Merry Christmas, Baby (Self Produced, 2007), and his first effort to feature a trio instead of a quintet.

While Brown's pliant bass work is at the center of all of the action on these ten slices of Ellingtonia, Chestnut's piano work is the action itself. By choosing the piano trio format to pay tribute to one of jazz's most significant pianist-composers, and selecting a pianist with such prodigious talent, Brown places himself in a situation where he is, more often than not, relegated to a supporting role on his own album, but that doesn't diminish the success of this music. In fact, this trio does marvelous things with the music of Ellington, regardless of who receives top billing. Brown's bass is front and center on the rarely-covered "Pie Eye's Blues," and his solo work on "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" is the highlight of that particular piece. Chestnut's chops, along with his unabashed enthusiasm for the music, come to the fore on a smoking take of "Perdido," and his exuberant runs and bluesy tremolos make "In A Mellow Tone" anything but mellow.

While Chestnut's larger-than-life pianistic personality often threatens to eclipse his trio mates' contributions on the more lively material, he knows when to take a back seat, as demonstrated during Brown's arco recitation of the melody on "Solitude." In other places, all three men tackle the music on fairly equal footing. Chestnut leads from the front, while Brown and drummer Adonis Rose bolster his perky distillation of the melody from below on the odd-metered, faster than usual "Isfahan, " and all three men live and breathe the message that resides in the title of "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."

While Ellington tributes are never in short supply, that doesn't mean the jazz world doesn't have room to accept and enjoy another one. Ellington only knew two categories of music—good and bad—and Dancing With Duke: An Homage To Duke Ellington, fits firmly under the former heading.


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.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Goodbye to Language" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye to Language
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Falga" CD/LP/Track Review Falga
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Sky Begins" CD/LP/Track Review Sky Begins
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "Fellowship" CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Nessuno" CD/LP/Track Review Nessuno
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Heavy Feel" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Feel
by Doug Collette
Published: May 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!