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Although I’ve lost count of the number of CDs released this year that have paid tribute to Duke Ellington on his 100th anniversary, I find this one to be especially noteworthy. Tony Bennett is not a “jazz singer” by definition, but there is no question that throughout his career he has been heavily influenced by the genre. His recordings with Count Basie, Bill Evans, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie, among others, display his love for the music and the great songs it has produced. The 73-year-old Bennett is in fine voice on this warm collection of standards (It Don’t Mean A Thing, Sophisticated Lady), rarities (Azure, Day Dream) and some Ellington classics vocalists rarely tackle (Caravan). Bennett is backed by The Ralph Sharon Quartet, a big band and a lush string orchestra, with guest stars Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) and Al Grey (trombone) adding additional lustre to this intimate, classy affair. You’ll love it madly! (####)
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.