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!


Dial & Oatts - Rich DeRosa - WDR Big Band: Rediscovered Ellington

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Fans of Duke Ellington who think they've heard it all should prepare themselves for a most pleasant surprise: a treasure-trove of "rediscovered" songs composed or co-written by Ellington, several of which had never before been recorded, wonderfully performed by Germany's world-class WDR Big Band conducted by Rich DeRosa and featuring the prodigious talents of guests Garry Dial on piano and Dick Oatts on alto and soprano saxophones and flute.

The story behind that rediscovery dates to 1979 when Dial was hired by Ellington's sister Ruth and her son, Stephen James, to archive the Duke's Tempo Music catalog, which included compositions by Ellington and many of his musical associates. In 2015, when DeRosa, who was chief conductor and arranger for the WDR Big Band, contacted Dial about collaborating with Oatts and the ensemble on a new venture, Dial thought of the many overlooked gems by Ellington lying unused in his filing cabinets and suggested to DeRosa that he and Oatts record a number of them with the WDR Big Band. Hence, the idea of Rediscovered Ellington was born and brought to fruition.

The task of orchestrating Ellington's charts fell to DeRosa, and to say that he did so with dexterity and awareness would be to understate the case. Every number on this radiant album shines with the sort of luster one associates with Ellington the musical architect. In fact, one of the biggest surprises here is why and how these persuasive essays are so little known and seldom heard. There are no "throwaways" or afterthoughts; to the contrary, every one of these eloquent themes underscores Ellington's acknowledged brilliance as a jazz composer, as do the exemplary summations by Dial, Oatts, DeRosa and the orchestra.

There is no point in recounting the album's highlights, as every number qualifies for the accolade. Among those heard on record for the first time are the tender ballad "I Like Singing," written with lyricist Herbert Martin for the musical Saturday Laughter; the smooth-flowing "Just a Gentle Word from You Will Do," written mostly by arranger Onzy Matthews; the free and easy "Introspection," forceful "Kiki" and atypical "KCOR" ("rock" spelled backward), probably written, according to the liner notes, late in Ellington's life. The session closes with another ballad, "I Must Be Mad," a handsome showcase for Dial's expressive piano and Oatts' burnished alto.

Oatts revisits the alto on "Let the Zoomers Drool," "I Like Singing," "Introspection," "Kiki" and "Love Came," pivots to soprano on "Hey, Baby" and "KCOR," and to flute on "Just a Gentle Word," while Dial solos on every track save "Kiki." As for the WDR, its blue-ribbon soloists include altos Johan Horlen ("Hey, Baby") and Karolina Strassmeyer ("Kiki"), tenor Paul Heller ("Hey, Baby"), trombonists Shannon Barnett ("Zoomers"), Ludwig Nuss ("A Gentle Word") and Andy Hunter ("Introspection"), trumpeters Ruud Breuls ("Introspection"), John Marshall ("Kiki") and Andy Haderer ("KCOR"), baritone Jens Neufang and bassist John Goldsby ("Kiki"). The WDR as a whole is spotless, DeRosa's charts splendid, Dial and Oatts superb, and Rediscovered Ellington, subtitled "New Takes on Duke's Rare and Undiscovered Music," is one of the outstanding "reissues" of this or any other year.

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: Rich DeRosa: conductor, arranger, big band orchestrations; Garry Dial: piano, arranger; Dick Oatts: soprano sax, flute, alto flute, arranger. The WDR Big Band – Andy Haderer: trumpet; Wim Both: trumpet; Rob Bruynen: trumpet; Ruud Breuls: trumpet; John Marshall: trumpet; Johan Horlen: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Karolina Strassmayer: alto sax, flute; Olivier Peters: tenor sax, clarinet; Paul Heller: tenor sax, clarinet; Jens Neufang: baritone, bass sax, bass clarinet; Ludwig Nuss: 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


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
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 "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "On Air" CD/LP/Track Review On Air
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Fusion Machine" CD/LP/Track Review Fusion Machine
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Taking Direction" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Direction
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Roll On" CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 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!