Issued in time to tack on to the end of the celebration of the Ellington centenary, Daniel Barenboim's Tribute to Ellington is neither the best of the albums to be issued in honor of Ellington's 100th birthday, nor is it an expensive disaster. Employing some of the most talented genre-straddling musicians available, including clarinetist Don Byron and vocalist Dianne Reeves, the album applies chamber music arrangements to Ellington's big band works. The musicianship here is excellent and the arrangements are without fault, but the album comes out sounding more precise than passionate. Though Ellington could certainly be called a perfectionist, the best of his original recordings also came with a certain energy, which seems to be missing here. Taking Ellington into the classical realm certainly makes sense -- he is respected by many as one of the greatest composers of the century, but this performance does not seem to add much to the breadth of the experience of his music.
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AllMusic Review by Stacia Proefrock
|Suite Thursday, for jazz orchestra|