I received an odd response when I asked the avant-garde free saxophonist Peter Brotzmann what his favorite records were. He responded with a list of Duke Ellington titles. Funny, no strange that someone who practices so free from melody should admire Duke Ellington, a true composer’s composer. During this centenary celebration of Duke’s birth, when everyone is releasing every Ellington recording ever made, Telarc Jazz has compiled a tribute by their stable of artists. Of the tracks heard, eleven are drawn from previous releases, and two are unreleased tracks by Dave Brubeck. The collection gets started with Mel Torme’s “I’m going Fishin’” from the movie Anatomy of a Murder, he also covers “It Don’t Mean A Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and he plays the drums on “Rockin’ In Rhythm.” Oscar Peterson make an appearance on two tracks. But maybe the most impressive efforts here are by the guitarists. Joe Pass, Jim Hall, and Ulf Wakenius. Guitarists interpretations of the Ellington/Strayhorn piano lines sound delicate and so beautiful. Crooner Bobby Short covers “Take Love Easy” and two trios Ahmad Jamal and Andre Previn work out on “Do Nothing ‘Till You Hear From Me” and “ I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good.” As the millennium approaches Duke Ellington’s place in jazz and American history seems secure. This release is a fitting tribute, but I’m holding out for an Ellington tribute by Peter Brotzmann.
Track List:I’m Gonna Go Fishing; In A Mellow Tone; Cotton Tail; Take The ‘A’ Train; In A Sentimental Mood; Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me; Rockin’ In Rhythm; I’ve Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good; Take Love Easy; Satin Doll; Things Ain’t What They Used To Be; Azure; It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.