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James Spaulding Plays the Legacy of Duke Ellington

James Spaulding

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Album Review

Despite being a top altoist and flutist since at least the mid-'60s, when he played with Freddie Hubbard's band, James Spaulding did not get his recording debut as a leader until this 1976 LP. Spaulding, on various flutes, piccolo, soprano and alto, performs eight songs associated with Duke Ellington, including "Take the 'A' Train" (a Billy Strayhorn composition mistakenly co-credited in the liners to Duke), "Come Sunday," an impressive flute showcase on "Sophisticated Lady" and "It Don't Mean a Thing." Spaulding is joined by pianist Cedar Walton, a young Steve Nelson on vibes, bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins and percussionist Mtume. The most unusual aspect of this set is that Avery Brooks (who has a deep baritone that Ellington might have liked) sings four of the eight songs. A sincere tribute.

Biography

Born: July 30, 1937 in Indianapolis, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

A superior alto saxophonist and flutist who can shift from bop and hard bop to very adventurous flights, James Spaulding gained his greatest recognition while a member of Freddie Hubbard's quintet in the mid-'60s. He studied at the Chicago Cosmopolitan School of Music and then gigged and recorded regularly with Sun Ra during 1957-1961. During the 1960s, Spaulding (who worked with Max Roach and Randy Weston) was in demand not only by Hubbard, but for Blue Note recordings by Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter,...
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