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Garry Dial: Rediscovered Ellington

Dan McClenaghan By

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When a Duke Ellington disc spins, it's always a joyful noise. In addition to his own seemingly countless recordings, stellar tributes to Ellington often shine by reinterpreting the classic sound—the Count Basie Orchestra's Count Plays Duke (MAMA Records, 1998); Joyful Noise: a Tribute To Duke Ellington by Don Sebesky; and The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra's In The Spirit Of Duke (Spartacus Records, 2012). The set lists on these uniformly excellent recordings are reinvestigations of Ellington's more familiar tunes, with new stylistic approachs; and with a fifty-plus year recording career, compositions of Duke's that could be called "familiar" certainly numbered in the hundreds.

Pianist/arranger Gary Dial, reedman/arranger Dick Oatts, along with conductor/arranger Rich DeRosa and The WDR Big Band take a different tack by introducing this superb-but-obscure Ellington music to the world with Rediscovered Ellington: New Takes On Duke's Rare & Unheard Music.

With no touchstones in the set list—no "Mood Indigo" or "Black and Tan Fantasy," no "Creole Love Call" or "Satin Doll"—Rediscovered Ellington can at times sound contemprary and un-Ellingtonian, as it does on the opener, "Hey Baby," with its brash,  full-throated, harmony and modernistic, hard-driving rhythm. Add soloist Dick Oatts' soprano saxophone solo—Ellington wasn't much of a soprano sax guy—as a counterpoint to Paul Heller's torrid tenor sax work for a rousing sound that proves itself more in-your-face than most Ellington music.

"Let The Zoomers Drool," a fine title if ever there was one, is more of a hat tip to the Ellington arranging style, with its easy swing, a bluesy piano turn and the softy luminescent harmonies. "I Like Singing,"  leans on Duke's classical proclivities, with a gorgeous and ruminative orchestral feel.

The  project had its genesis in 1979,  in the hiring of—by Ruth Ellington and Stephen James, sister and nephew of Duke Ellington—Garry Dial for the purposes of recording and archiving Duke's entire Tempo music catalogue. The tunes on Rediscovered Ellington come out of this commision almost forty years later, on the sassy and non-introspective "Introspection," the lavish, sparkling "Kiki," and the gorgeously lonely "I Must Be Mad," that wraps up this exquisite set of obscure Ellingtonia.

Track Listing: Hey, Baby; Let The Zoomers Drool, I Like Singing; Just A Gentle Word From You Will Do; Introspection; Kiki; Love Came; KCOR; I Must Be Mad.

Personnel: Garry Dial: piano, arranger; Dick Oatts: soprano sax, alto sax, flute, arranger; Rich DeRosa: conductor, arranger, big band orchestrations; Johan Horlen: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Karolina Strassmayer: alto sax, flute; Olivier Peters: tenor sax, clarinet; Paul Heller: tenor sax, clarinet; Jens Neufang: bari sax, bass sax, bass clarinet; Andy Haderer: lead trumpet; Wim Both: alt lead trumpet; Rob Bruynen: trumpet; Ruud Breuls: trumpet; John Marshall: trumpet; Ludwig Nuss: lead trombone; Shannon Barnett: trombone; Andy Hunter: trombone; Mattis Cederberg: bass trombone, tuba; John Goldsby: bass; Hans Dekker: drums.

Title: Rediscovered Ellington | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zoho Music


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