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Loren Schoenberg -- Reviews

Duke Ellington Celebration
From the Washington Post, Monday, October 31, 2005

"From Harlem to Hollywood," the Duke Ellington celebration presented at the National Museum of American History's Carmichael Auditorium on Saturday night, began on a familiar note, with seven musicians drawn from the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra inviting listeners to "Take the 'A' Train." From that point on, however, there was no telling what the next stop would be.

Affably hosted by Loren Schoenberg, pianist, reedman, educator and irrepressible raconteur, the program wouldn't have disappointed anyone who wished to reminisce in tempo. After all, there was no shortage of Ellington hits, including largely improvised versions of "Satin Doll," "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and "Caravan." But what made the concert special were the wonderful obscurities that kept surfacing. Each displayed another facet of Ellington's genius as the septet charted his course from dance halls to film work. Schoenberg noted that some of the pieces the Ellington band rarely performed would have provided other orchestras with long-lasting meal tickets. His point was colorfully underscored by such sparkling gems as "Savoy Strut" and "Reflections in D."

Some of the orchestral pieces were imaginatively rearranged for four horns by Chris Madsen -- no small task given the harmonic complexity of the original scores. Whether playing alone or together, trumpeter John Eckert, trombonist Willie Applewhite, alto saxophonist/clarinetist Marty Nau and baritone saxophonist Scott Silbert consistently evoked the maestro's extraordinary tonal palette. Schoenberg (on piano, almost exclusively), bassist James King and drummer Kenneth Kimery contributed additional idiomatic touches and a vibrant swing pulse.

-- Mike Joyce

 

 

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