Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974) is a colossus among American composers of any genre. With a career spanning more than 50 years, he wrote more than one thousand compositions, many of which have become jazz standards as well as precious, irreplaceable gems of the American Songbook. While music historians are wont to view him as a jazz or big band swing composer, Ellington's work reaches far beyond. Many musicologists have neglected the extensive body of sacred music that Ellington produced, four of which are presented in this album. In truth, Ellington did not consider himself a jazz or big band writer and performer. In his words, he wrote and played "the natural feelings of a people." Ellington conceived his works differently than others of the big band era. Typical arrangements of that period were written for a rhythm section supporting full sections of saxophones, trumpets and trombones with occasional short, improvised solos for contrast. Ellington was like a playwright, producing more script than manuscript, giving voice to leads within his cast of characters, then supporting the tale they wove with other voices within the cast. He chose his players not only for their musical proficiency, but also for their strong personalities. Unlike classic big band, Ellington encouraged his band to express themselves in their music, to let their individual personalities shine through. The early works were often released as three-minute instrumental singles, the maximum time possible on the single side of a teninch 78 RPM record. Words were added later, sometimes several years later, and by a variety of lyricists, adding another sparkling - sometimes startling - dimension to the captivating saga. Whether an instrumental or vocal arrangement, these pieces carry away the listener with Ellington's uniquely transcendent, supremely evocative, and unequalled style.
Personnel: Henry Dehlinger (piano); Danielle Talamantes (vocals).
Liner Note Author: Scott Parrish.
Recording information: Vienna Presbyterian Church, Vienna, Virginia (07/13/2015-11/23/2015).
Photographers: Roy Cox; Bill Bramble.