James Newton

The African Flower

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This wonderful set finds flutist James Newton creating fresh interpretations of seven songs written by Duke Ellington and/or Billy Strayhorn. His ensembles include violinist John Blake, altoist Arthur Blythe, cornetist Olu Dara, vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, pianist Roland Hanna (who has long had the ability to emulate Ellington's chord voicings and touch), bassist Rick Rozie, percussionist Anthony Brown, and either Pheeroan Ak Laff or Billy Hart on drums. In addition, Milt Grayson (who had sung with Ellington) takes a guest vocal on "Strange Feeling." Whether romping through "Cottontail," reviving "Virgin Jungle" (heard in an 11-minute version), or taking an unaccompanied flute flight on "Sophisticated Lady," James Newton's tribute set is quite memorable and a real gem.

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