Jazz CD Reviews

Single Petal of a Rose – Duke Ellington Legacy, with special guest Houston Person – Renma Recordings

The spirit of Ellington remains strong, and the whole multi-generational group of players seem to having great fun.

Published on July 18, 2012

Single Petal of a Rose – Duke Ellington Legacy, with special guest Houston Person – Renma Recordings

Single Petal of a Rose – Duke Ellington Legacy, with special guest Houston Person [TrackList follows] – Renma Recordings 6403CD, 1:12:11 [7/17/12] *****:

(Edward Kennedy Ellington II, guitar; Norman Simmon, piano; Virginia Mayhew, tenor sax & clarinet; Noah Bless, trombone; Jami Dauber, trumpet; Tom Dicarlo, bass; Paul Wells, drums; Sheilda Earley, percussion; Nancy Reed, vocals; Houston Person, tenor sax)

What a nice up-to-date take on Duke’s music, and it still sounds a contemporary as ever. This is a nine-piece band put together by Duke’s grandson on guitar, but the real front runners in the delightful arrangements of the 14 tunes are guest artist Houston Person and pianist in the group, Norman Simmons. Bandleader Virginia Mayhew keeps things moving thru the wonderful numbers by Ellington and Strayhorn, as well as two by pianist Simmons and one by Erskine Hawkins. Duke’s grandson had been guitarist and roadie in the new Ellington orchestra led by his father, Mercer Ellington, after Duke died.

Norman Simmons and Virginia Mayhew did most of the arranging on the session, but don’t expect this to imitate the sound of the original Ellington band. These are fresh arrangements for the small group, showing contemporary influences. But, like The Duke did, both tried to highlight the special strengths of the individual players in the band. The spirit of Ellington remains strong, and the whole multi-generational group of players seem to having great fun, which is reflected in the music. I have to mention I couldn’t avoid being impressed that they closed out with my favorite Ellington tune, “Lotus Blossom.”

TrackList: 1. Dedication by Norman Simmons 2. Single Petal of a Rose 3. Happy Go Lucky Local 4. In My Solitude 5. Johnny Come Lately 6. Home Grown 7. Blood Count 8. In A Mellow Tone 9. Upper Manhattan Medical Group 10. Squeeze Me 11. Lush Life 12. After Hours 13. Love You Madly 14. Lotus Blossom

—John Henry




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