191

David Matthews & the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra: Hey Duke!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
To celebrate properly its tenth anniversary in 1999 the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra and conductor / arranger David Matthews turned to the music of Duke Ellington, the centenary of whose birth was that same year, to produce an album whose aim, in Matthews’ words, was to be “unique while maintaining a clear sense of Ellington’s originals.” As was Duke’s custom, Matthews arranged each of the eight songs (including his own composition, “Song for Edward”) with specific soloists in mind, showcasing the talents of several of the MJO’s top–drawer improvisers — saxophonists Aaron Heick and Chris Hunter, trumpeters Ryan Kisor and Lew Soloff, and trombonist Jim Pugh. With one notable exception, the plan works quite well. That exception is “Mood Indigo,” which opens and closes on a funky rock–style beat and morphs in midstream into an up-tempo flag–waver, which to the best of my recollection is not at all what Ellington envisioned. That’s why he named the plaintive tone–poem “Mood Indigo,” not “Code Red.” Aside from that aberration (which, it should be noted, is well–played with slashing solos by Soloff, Kisor and Hunter), the components mesh smoothly to create a series of musical sketches that are highly individualistic but don’t lose sight of Duke’s fundamental purpose, that of writing big–band music that is often challenging but always entertaining. Matthews’ charts are designed to swing, and his New York–based all–stars have no trouble making sure they do, with brass and reeds in lock–step and the enterprising rhythm section (Matthews, bassist Chip Jackson, drummer Terry Silverlight) furnishing as much firepower as needed. There are a few moments of repose, as on “Sentimental Mood” (with Soloff phrasing the seductive melody) and “Come Sunday,” on which vocalist Christine Sperry’s celestial soprano conveys the lyric and Soloff inscribes another forceful commentary. In sum, a picturesque two–pronged birthday party that does credit to Ellington and the MJO.

Contact: Milestone Records, 10th and Parker, Berkeley, CA 94710. www.fantasyjazz.com


Track Listing: It Don

Personnel: David Matthews, leader, piano; Lew Soloff, Ryan Kisor, Joe Shepley, Scott Wendholt, trumpet; Jim Pugh, Larry Farrell, Birch Johnson, trombone; David Taylor, bass trombone; Fred Griffin, John Clark, Chris Comer (1, 2, 8), French horn; Tony Price, tuba; Chris Hunter, alto sax; Aaron Heick, Lawrence Feldman (3, 4, 6), soprano sax, clarinet; Roger Rosenberg, bass clarinet; Chip Jackson, bass; Terry Silverlight, drums; Christine Sperry, vocal (

Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Big Band


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Bill Evans Bill Evans
piano
Charles Mingus Charles Mingus
bass, acoustic
Chick Corea Chick Corea
piano
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Freddie Hubbard Freddie Hubbard
trumpet
Stan Getz Stan Getz
sax, tenor
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
saxophone
Lee Konitz Lee Konitz
sax, alto
Ron Carter Ron Carter
bass
McCoy Tyner McCoy Tyner
piano

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "The Real Deal" CD/LP/Track Review The Real Deal
by James Nadal
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Inner Circle" CD/LP/Track Review Inner Circle
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Still Happy" CD/LP/Track Review Still Happy
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "Ubuntu" CD/LP/Track Review Ubuntu
by James Nadal
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "Wrong is Right" CD/LP/Track Review Wrong is Right
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: June 4, 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!