Various Artists

A Tribute to Duke [Concord Jazz]

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This short, nine-track tribute to the legendary Duke Ellington packs more swing into its 36-minute length than you'd expect. The disc features guest performances from Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and Woody Herman, with some great backing musicians, including Nat Pierce (piano), Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Bill Berry (trumpet), Monty Budwig (bass), and Jack Hanna (drums). The instrumental "Main Stem" is a rollicking number that sadly fades out after five minutes. Crosby's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" features some of his more adventurous vocalizations. Herman's "In a Sentimental Mood" is one of the most expressive versions, and is a standout. Clooney's "I'm Checking Out -- Go'om Bye" catches her at the top of her game, while Bennett's takes on "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" and "Prelude to a Kiss" are both classic crooner performances. A Tribute to Duke plays like a wonderful appetizer, readying your palette for more music. The only weakness of this disc is that it is too short.

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