- Single Petal of a Rose
- Happy Go Lucky Local
- Johnny Come Lately
- Home Grown
- Blood Count
- In A Mellow Tone
- Upper Manhattan Medical Group
- Squeeze Me
- Lush Life
- After Hours
- Love You Madly
- Lotus Blossom
Jami Dauber (trumpet); Virginia Mayhew (tenor saxophone and clarinet); Noah Bless (trombone): Norman Simmons (piano); Edward Kennedy Ellington II (guitar): Tom Dicarlo (bass); Paul Wells (drums): Sheila Earley (percussion); Nancy Reed (vocals) and guest Houston Person (tenor saxophone)
Recorded September 2011 [72:11]
The Duke Ellington Legacy is, to quote the liner notes, `a nine-piece group founded by Edward Kennedy Ellington II'. This is the grandson of the Duke, and thus son of Mercer Ellington, in whose band he ran around as guitarist and roadie for a while. Arranging duties are in the hands of the excellent and experienced pianist Norman Simmons and saxophonist Virginia Mayhew. Ellington is co-producer of the album.
It's composed of well-known Ducal favourites and if not by Duke, then by his right hand man, Billy Strayhorn. The arrangements are tasteful, and the band manages - albeit in miniature - to capture that rather loose feel cultivated by the Ellington orchestra, the opposite of rigidly doctrinaire drilling, where individual voicings are paramount and soloing the essence of storytelling. Vocalist Nancy Reed proves pleasant company and she is at her best when backed by well-voiced brass and reeds, as she assuredly is on Solitude. A Latin feel is inevitably engendered by the extra percussion provided by Sheila Earley.
Trumpeter Jami Dauber plays reasonably, though he's less impressive in Happy Go Lucky Local where guest star Houston Person rolls out some forthright and attractive lines. Person tends to dominate when he guests, as is perhaps inevitable given his stature. The frontliners, otherwise, are competent but not always inspired. In case you're wondering, Ellington doesn't solo.
The man who provides the most memorable moments is Simmons. His sensitive, impressionist title track is augmented by a romantic and rather lovely Lotus Blossom. Whenever he solos, one stops to listen. He has grace, and he has refinement. He has a beautiful tone. He is a joy to hear.