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A decidedly different chamber jazz kind of tribute to Duke Ellington comes from the creative mind of Paris-based Martial Solal. With a sound like that of Miles Davis' mid-century nonet, the pianist weaves tuba, baritone saxophone, rhythm, brass and woodwinds into a big band sound with suite-like implications. Following the cool school approach, Solal leaves out some of the swing, and supplies, instead, a creative manuscript that flows in many directions at once. Muted trumpets, droning bottom voices, splashes of drum set textures, and the leader's inspired piano merge with snippets of melody from each of the upper voices. A silky soprano saxophone, clarion trumpet, conversational trombone and percussive piano take turns with these familiar melodies. But, for the most part, Solal's arrangements employ one twist and turn after another in unexpected directions. Monk meets Ellington, so to speak, in a creative environment where no linear rules apply. Harmony and applicable rhythms follow tradition without breaking down. But no rhythm goes on undisturbed for more than one brief chorus at a time. Solal has arranged these classic tunes as if they were all a part of one ever-changing suite. Like a bee or hummingbird who moves repeatedly from one flower to the next one, Martial Solal prefers to move his Dodecaband in new and multiple directions before tradition catches up with him.
Track Listing: Satin Doll. Caravan. In a Sentimental Mood. It Don't Mean a Thing. Take the 'A' Train. Medley: Cotton Tail; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Things Ain't What They Used to Be; Take the 'A' Train; Prelude to a Kiss; Sophisticated Lady; I Got It Bad; Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.