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Plays Duke Ellington

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Album Review

On their first six recordings, the World Saxophone Quartet (comprised of altoists Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill, tenor saxophonist David Murray, and baritonist Hamiet Bluiett) stuck exclusively to group originals. This 1986 release was a major departure, for the innovative group performed fresh and generally unpredictable versions of five songs by Duke Ellington and two (including two renditions of "Take the 'A' Train") by Billy Strayhorn. Although the tunes (which include "Lush Life," "Sophisticated Lady," and "In a Sentimental Mood") are familiar, the interpretations are certainly unusual, showing respect for the original melodies and then coming up with new directions. This is thought-provoking music that serves as the perfect introduction to the unique World Saxophone Quartet.

Customer Reviews

brilliant and joyful

I loved this album when it first came out and recently listened to it again. Their version of "In a Sentimental Mood" ranks with my all-time favorites.


Formed: 1977

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Probably the first of several saxophone-only ensembles who proliferated in jazz after 1975, the WSQ is unquestionably the most commercially (and, arguably, the most creatively) successful. Of course, commercial success is a relative thing in jazz, especially when one is speaking of an avant-garde group. But unlike most free jazz artists, the WSQ managed to attract an audience of significant size; large enough to have garnered a major-label record deal in the '80s, an almost unheard-of occurrence...
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Plays Duke Ellington, World Saxophone Quartet
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