This is an inspiring collection of Duke Ellington compositions under the direction of British classical conductor Simon Rattle, with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and several stalwart jazz musicians. Classic Ellington is exactly the type of project Ellington himself was passionate about. The combination of jazz musicians in a symphonic setting played an integral part in Ellingtonia, a musical route he took as often as economics allowed. These 12 arrangements were provided by Luther Henderson, known for his work on such Broadway jazz-oriented shows as Ain't Misbehavin, Jelly's Last Jam, Play On! (consisting of Ellington material), and numerous other credits. In the Ellington tradition, jazz musicians including Tommy Flanagan, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Clark Terry, Regina Carter, and the sporadic vocals of Lena Horne weren't relegated to a rigid set of notes, instead individuality was relied on, resulting in this tribute not only to the spirit of Ellington, but the musicians that grew with him.
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell