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The Dukes have taken New Orleans Jazz not only uptown, but one step further. Add the Dukes of Dixieland with the New Orleans Pops Orchestra and you get an exciting dose of New Orleans Symphonic Jazz. The musicians draw on a variety of New Orleans music reinterpreted in the intense, brassy Dixieland style for which the Dukes are so well known. You will hear the usual New Orleans fare: "Basin Street Blues," "A Closer Walk with Thee," and "When the Saints Come Marching In." But the Dukes take it one step beyond that with international favorites like "Midnight in Moscow" and the "Cantina Suite" from the motion picture "Star Wars." So sit back and enjoy some of the best Symphonic Jazz you'll ever experience.
The prospect of the unusual pairing of traditional Dixieland jazz and a symphony orchestra is the lure here. Unfortunately, the promise is only partially fulfilled, as the Dukes of Dixeland and the New Orleans Pops Orchestra are together on just 4 of the 14 songs in this 74-minute 1980 concert; even then, actual interaction between the two is rather limited. This is primarily a showcase for the Dukes, six fine musicians playing a repertoire that includes such obvious fare as "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Basin Street Blues," and, of course, "When the Saints Go Marching In." The orchestra joins in on the last, as well as on a nice reading of "Midnight in Moscow," the "Cantina Theme" from Star Wars, and "Lullaby of Dixieland." Classical players are notoriously swing-challenged, but it would have been nice to hear them actually playing with the jazzmen instead of merely providing textural backing and moody intros. Maybe next time. --Sam Graham