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The purpose of this recording was for pianist Ted Howe's "(Duke) Ellington Show to be choreographed for an Atlanta, Georgia-based dance troupe. Thankfully, Howe and his trio recorded a portion of the Duke's songbook for mass consumption, while exuding a cheery and indubitably upbeat vibe along the way. Fused with snappy rhythms, Latin slants, and brisk swing vamps, the trio succeeds at instilling a personalized approach into familiar territory.
Howe simply glides across his acoustic piano's keys, featuring bluesy trills and sobering movements, and he also revs his band up on several occasions. But this divergent program highlights the pianist's versatility. For example, he duly conveys warmth via softly stated harmonies on "In a Sentimental Mood, while incorporating stride piano techniques on "It Don't Mean a Thing.... The trio frames its rendition of "Take The A Train upon a slickly articulated swing vibe. Howe's game plan translates into a highly entertaining and somewhat motivational reckoning of Ellington's legacy.
Track Listing: Things Ain't What They Used To Be, Caravan, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, Prelude To A Kiss, Sophisticated Lady, In A Sentimental Mood, It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing, In My Solitude, Mood Indigo, Take the "A" Train.
Personnel: Ted Howe, piano; Neal Starkey, bass; Jerry Fields, drums.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.