Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

126

The NDR Big Band: Ellingtonia

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Here’s a nourishing slice of Ellingtonia from Germany’s world–class NDR Big Band with several guest artists sitting in to enhance the bill of fare. While some of the names may be unfamiliar to Jazz enthusiasts on this side of the pond, take it from one who’s been listening to big–band Jazz for nearly half a century — they can play. Otherwise, as Duke himself pointed out, “it don’t mean a thing.” As the band is hardly in uncharted waters here, the arrangements are of crucial importance, and fortunately, Steve Gray, Joki Freund, Arif Mardin and Robert Lamb are up to the task, refurbishing these well–known songs by Ellington (as well as by Strayhorn and Duke’s son, Mercer) to give them a handsome new façade. The album opens with Gray’s uncommon treatment of Strayhorn’s “A Train,” in which the celebrated choo–choo barely generates enough power to get under way. As the slow–moving train pulls into the station and comes to rest the fireworks begin, with soloists Stanko and Sauer lending a JATP veneer to Freund’s snappy arrangement of “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” Next up is the Ellingtonia medley (“Carnegie Blues,” Mercer’s “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” “Koko”), arranged by Mardin and followed by two of Duke’s most enduring melodies, “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Sophisticated Lady.” Slide Hampton is among the soloists on Juan Tizol’s “Caravan,” and Stanko, Sauer and pianist Walter Norris return to traverse “Chelsea Bridge” and enliven Strayhorn’s “Day Dream.” Tracks 2 and 4–8, by the way, were recorded in 1984, the other three in 1998. The last of these is “Diminuendo, etc. in Blue,” arranged by Gray and featuring bass saxophonist Steffen Schorn, trombonist Joe Gallardo, alto saxophonist Fiete Felsch, trumpeter Gustavo Bergalli and tenor Lutz Büchner. Although there’s nothing here that Ellington enthusiasts won’t have heard (perhaps many times) before, the charts are admirable, and so are the band and its guests. Think of it as “The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra East.”

Track listing: Take the A Train; It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing; The Ellingtonia Medley (Carnegie Blues, Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, Koko); In a Sentimental Mood; Sophisticated Lady; Caravan; Chelsea Bridge; Day Dream; Diminuendo, Crescendo and Crescendissimo in Blue (71:50).


Personnel:

The NDR Big Band (various personnel) conducted by Dieter Glawischnig, Steve Gray (1), Arif Mardin (3) with guest soloists Tomasz Stanko, Gustavo Bergalli, trumpet; Heinz Sauer, Christof Lauer, Lutz B

Title: Ellingtonia | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: ACT Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Laughing At Life" CD/LP/Track Review Laughing At Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Clarinet (& Piano)" CD/LP/Track Review Clarinet (& Piano)
by John Eyles
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "All Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review All Smiles
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 31, 2017

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!