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Duke's Delight is a classy recording from a pianist of renown. While the tape was rolling Duke Jordan's playing was inspired, and the band stayed right with him throughout this session, which includes five Jordan compositions and Duke Ellington's "In My Solitude."
Playing piano in a sax and trumpet format is a setting long familiar to Jordon, and his clear, melodic lines rise above a tight band that is consistently up for the challenge. Charlie Rouse on tenor plays a straight forward bluesy sax, much different from his Thelonious Monk days, and Richard Williams on trumpet provides his precise, sometimes fiery, commentary. Bassist Sam Jones and drummer Al Foster round out a rhythm section that's honed and vigorous. This quintet can cook.
Jordan is primarily remembered for his stellar work in the magnificent Charlie Parker Quintetthe famous band that was graced with the presence of the young Miles Davis and the master drummer Max Roach. This was back in the late 1940's when Jordan was a key figure, often providing fine introductions, as well as riveting solos and intricate accompaniment to some of Parker's finest work.
Jordan's solos have always been known for their clarity of construction and thoughtful swing. With Parker there was also a lyrical sweetness to his tone that meshed well with the dissonance of the edgier bebop compositions. His sophisticated mastery of the music ensured that he would continue to be an in-demand pianist. After recording with Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, and a long line-up of other name players, Jordan moved to Denmark in 1978 and developed a productive relationship with SteepleChase Records until his death in 2006.
Duke's Delight is often considered one of Jordan's best SteepleChase recordings. The playing is up front and open, the band having the talent and rapport to sustain such honesty; while Jordan's compositions present solid material to work and develop. Jordan's compositions and arrangements have a similar clarity of construction as his solo work and there's a no-nonsense, sophisticated air about his conceptions that set the tone for this marvelous session.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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