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Count Plays Duke

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Album Review

Funny that the Count Basie band would finally do an entire album of Ellington/Strayhorn tunes in 1998, fourteen years after Basie's death and 24 years after Ellington's. All right, better late than never, but this stretches the cliché to unbelievable lengths when neither leader nor most of their famous sidemen are around to notice. Still, the Basie band continues to be a lively ghost under the direction of trombonist Grover Mitchell, disciplined and crisply swinging with a solid crew of soloists, although the old explosive power is largely dormant. This survey of Ellingtonia runs through many of the well-known Ellington and Strayhorn standards, all arranged with a convincingly Bas-ic ensemble sound by Allyn Ferguson (even an indelibly marked piece like "Mood Indigo" is transformed by that loping rhythm guitar). As a nostalgic bonus, a famous Basie alum, the still spry flutist Frank Wess, 76-years-old here, is on board for "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," "Just Squeeze Me" and "Love You Madly." A minor still-alive-and-well document in the big Basie picture, but enjoyable. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Count Plays Duke, Count Basie Orchestra
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