The music of America's greatest composer, Edward Kennedy Ellington, will live forever as an integral part of the world's music scene.
His legacy is protected by his grandson, 29-year-old Paul Ellington, son of Mercer Ellington, Duke's son. However, Paul Ellington also has creative interests which fit nicely with his grandfather's legacy. In addition to his own piano and band-leading talents, Paul is a budding film maker. For the past three years, he has been enrolled as a student at the Vancouver Film School in Vancouver, British Columbia.
He is currently writing a screen play outlining the relationship between his grandfather, Duke Ellington and Ellington's musical alter ego, composer, arranger and pianist Billy Strayhorn. It will be titled the "Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn Story."
Despite his absence from New York while studying in Vancouver, he still finds time to squeeze some time to lead the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The band is a 15 piece aggregation about which the young Ellington is quite proud. The band plays Duke Ellington's compositions as well as some by his grandson.
The young Ellington points with pride to the work of saxophonist Shelley Carroll who he ranks as one of the top five tenor players in the world. He is equally proud of trumpeter Barry Lee Hall who was a protégé of one of Duke's mainstays, Cootie Williams.
Paul Ellington told the Skanner Newspaper that the economics of big bands make it impossible to keep the band on the road full time. That makes its upcoming gig at Seattle's Jazz Alley, Feb 28 to March 2 even more meaningful.
"LIVE AT SALTY'S"
MEL BROWN TRIO
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These 10 tracks of familiar but not overdone tunes form a concert of commanding jazz.
The command is simple: "Have a seat, place your order, shut up and listen." These musicians — pianist Jof Lee, bassist Tim Gilson and drummer Mel Brown — are jazz masters who could hardly be expected to merely supply background music for conversation.
The opener, "Light and Lovely," finds a nice foot patting groove with Lee's solo bearing evidence of his strong blues roots. Gilson's bass is both pulsing and melodic. Brown who has dueled with some of the best, including Max Roach, again proves, beyond a beat, he is the brushmaster.
Lee exhibits some excellent chording on "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams." Gilson follows improvising off the melody with the expertise only the best bassists can muster. Brown again shows off his brush prowess.
The level of musicianship is so high and the selected tunes so fitting, it's difficult to pick a favorite. It is just 70 and a half minutes of world class piano trio jazz.
"MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL 50TH ANNIVERSARY ALL STARS"
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The 50th Anniversary of any entity is truly something to be celebrated.
So, the Monterey Jazz Festival powers put together this brilliant group of all stars to commemorate its' fifty years of presenting the best jazz available.
It is a nice mixture of veteran players like trumpeter Terrence Blanchard and saxophonist James Moody along with younger stars including drummer Kendrick Scott; bassist Derrick Hodge and Portland based master, pianist Benny Green.
Their intent is made clear from the onset with a hard swinging 8:57 version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Be-Bop." Blanchard, Moody and Green get ample room to stretch out and make great use of it.
After delivering the love ballad "Romance," written by big band leader Gerald Wilson, which demands close listening, vocalist Nnenna Freelon and Moody team for a silly but fun "Just Squeeze Me."
These musicians were chosen not only for their musical accomplishments but also each has a history and special relationship with the festival. Look for more Monterey Jazz Festival releases in the future.
Dick Bogle hosts a jazz radio show 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on 89.1 KMHD FM. He can be reached at [email protected].