This tribute to Duke Ellington has a truly international cast, with a septet co-led by Dutch saxophonist Frank Roberscheuten and American trombonist/cornetist Dan Barrett; it also includes baritone saxophonist Joep Peeters and drummer Onno de Bruijn (from the Netherlands), bassist Karel Algoed (Belgium), as well as two Americans now making their living overseas, pianist Chris Hopkins (Germany) and cornetist, trombonist, and saxophonist Tom Baker (Australia). Although many CDs honoring the legendary bandleader and prolific composer tend to concentrate exclusively on the hits or just one small era, this group covers songs from the 1920s through the 1950s, covering some obvious crowd pleasers as well as forgotten or overlooked gems. "Take the 'A' Train" opens with a pleasant waltzing introduction, with Hopkins capturing the flavor (without slavishly copying) Ellington's style; Barrett handles Ray Nance's famous 1941 cornet solo with aplomb. Roberscheuten's transcription of "Subtle Slough" (later known as "Just Squeeze Me") from a Rex Stewart-led small group session has a fine muted cornet solo by Baker. Hopkins tackles "The Mooche" as a piano solo and duets with Algoed on "Pitter Panther Patter," recreating Ellington's famous duet with Jimmy Blanton at a slightly slower tempo. Barrett switches from slide trombone to valve trombone for "Moonlight Fiesta," a Latin number accented by de Bruijn's maracas. "Happy Reunion" was a ballad feature for tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, which made its public debut at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival but never really caught on; Roberscheuten's rich tenor captures its essence with some lush accompaniment by Hopkins and the rhythm section. The finale is a brisk "C Jam Blues," featuring a chorus by each musician as well as comic introductions of each of the soloists by Peeters. Swing fans will want to pick up this fun-filled CD.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden