DMP Big Band Salutes Duke Ellington

DMP Big Band

DMP Records CD-520

Playing Time 66:36

The DMP Big Band with Musical Director Dean Pratt, set out to reproduce the original sound of the Duke Ellington Big Band. To successfully complete the task, the ensemble had to communicate the energy, power, and yet, the gentle sound of the Ellington Orchestra, as well as imitating the improvisational stylings of the original members. Happily, the DMP Big Band members introduce their style and interpretation into the music while remaining true to the original performance practice. As the listener, I was completely convinced of a true representation of the unique Ellington sound.

The members of the DMP Big Band are the top studio musicians in New York City. Pianist Dan Rosengard opens with Kinda Dukish, originally recorded for Capitol Records on December 3, 1953. Rosengard has mastered the gentle touch that made Duke's music so unique. Playing as a trio, Rosengard together with bassist Lynn Seaton and drummer John Riley, capture the true spirit of the music. Trumpeter Lew Soloff, formerly of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, is introduced on the second track where he imitates the style of William "Cat" Anderson. Soloff floats beautifully above the band, combining power and grace while adding more energy with every new phrase of Cat's original solo.

The recording would not be complete without paying tribute to the trumpet sound that was brought to the Ellington Orchestra by Bubber Miley. This sound was developed further by Cootie Williams, Miley's replacement in 1929. C-Jam Blues features Soloff, Britt Woodman on trombone, and Doug Lawrence on clarinet. Also featured is Diane Montalbine on violin, echoing the resonant sound of original player Ray Nance.

DMP has incorporated its Compatible Surround Sound encoding on this 20-bit recording. Although the band sounds slightly distant at times, the definition, clarity and soundstage of the ensemble are superb. The musical energy remains constant and is well defined throughout the recording.

This is a superior recording project from both a musical and historical standpoint. Through great effort and obvious expertise, Tom Jung and Dean Pratt have produced a recording that is true to the legacy of Duke Ellington. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Duke would be pleased.

-- Steven Dubinsky

Copyright©Steven Dubinsky, 1997