William Parker Orchestra - Essence of Ellington (4 stars)

An innovative free jazz tribute to Duke Ellington

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William Parker Orchestra - Essence of Ellington

The Wynton Marsalis paradox: the works of jazz legends deserve to be celebrated, but by treating them like classical repertoire, you lose jazz’s spirit of spontaneity and invention. It’s that essence that William Parker taps into so successfully on this glorious tribute to Sir Duke’s innovative genius, leading a peerless free jazz orchestra through radical Ellington interpretations. Ellington built his arrangements around his musicians’ personalities; an approach Parker shares, giving solos to tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan and pianist Dave Burrell (a sophisticated thunderstorm), while allowing the ensemble to improvise, pushing the music in several directions while swinging like crazy.

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