The Duke Ellington Legacy's Single Petal of a Rose
offers a ravishing, 21st Century take on the Maestro's music, with special guest Houston Person. Almost four decades after Duke Ellington's passing, he looms larger than ever as a singular giant of American music. With Single Petal of a Rose
the talent-laden Duke Ellington Legacy offers an insightful, often-breathtaking tour through a program of masterpieces by Ellington and his inimitable creative partner, Billy Strayhorn. A nine-piece multigenerational ensemble founded by guitarist Edward Kennedy Ellington II, Duke's grandson, the Duke Ellington Legacy doesn't attempt to replicate the Ellington Orchestra's sound. Rather, the band explores sublime ballads, hard-charging flag wavers, lustrous tone poems, and sultry vocals, channeling an essentially Ellingtonian spirit from a contemporary perspective. With savvy music direction by saxophonist Virginia Mayhew and brilliant arrangements by the great Norman Simmons, who also handles piano duties with elegant authority, the band fully adheres to Duke's prime directive, swinging as if their lives depended on it. ''The key thing is we're not just playing Ellington arrangements,'' Ellington says. ''These are fresh arrangements reflecting new influences, and that's the point.''
Sounds as classic as the day Duke Ellington gave his music birth, while still sounding like a contemporary jazz band. --Susan Frances, Jazzreview.com