Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Duke, there’s a new Duke Ellington tribute album out. Do you know how many jazz albums have been made in your honor? There's too many to keep track of. How many of them do you like? The latest is Dancing with Duke an Homage to Duke Ellington. Jazz bass player John Brown made it with piano player Cyrus Chestnut and drummer Adonis Rose. Duke, since I’ve been in the jazz journalism field, I’ve heard many Duke Ellington shout-out albums. Many were noteworthy, and some were forgettable. Brown’s tribute ain’t half-bad.

Are you familiar with Brown? He’s an awesome bass player. In the 90’s, Brown played in Elvin Jones’s band. Jones never had any scrubs in his band. None that I know of. So, Brown must be the real deal. I think Brown is, given how meticulously he handled your material. 

For years, Brown has wanted to record with Chestnut and Rose. Until recently, their schedules wouldn’t allow it. With Dancing with Duke, they finally hooked up. Brown selected 10 of your well-known songs such as In a Mellow Tone, Perdido, Pie Eye’s Blues and I Got it Bad (and That Ain’t Good). I’m listening to the album as I write his post.

Brown, Chestnut and Rose are doing a killer version of Pie Eye’s Blues. Chestnut took the first solo. Brown followed. Rose had the final say. I must point out, Duke, Brown is the captain, but Chestnut has the strongest presence. Duke, Chestnut plays beautiful flourishes on I Got it Bad (and That Ain't Good) gave my soul goosebumps.

Chestnut is a commanding piano player He’s my all time favorite after Gene Harris and Monk. I don’t believe Chestnut set out to steal the show, but that’s what he did anyway. Chestnut is at his best in a trio. Duke, if you need proof download his album Revelation. But, lately, as a leader, Chestnut has been in a rut.

The albums Chestnut has put out since parting ways with Atlantic Records are okay. I can’t think of one I’d implore anyone to buy. But, on Dancing with Duke, I couldn’t tear my ears always from Chestnut’s soloing, particularly on Ishfahan, Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear from Me, and Solitude.

Brown, Chestnut and Rose put their twist on your songs. On the first half of Dancing with Duke, they had us all worked up. Then they dimmed the lights, and played four of your slow jams that Brown neatly rolled into a suite titled Sweet Ballad Suite. Duke I recommend Dancing with Duke. You should download it right away. If you like it, which I’m certain you will, let Strayhorn check it out.
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