On this CD, Mraz has chosen 11 of Duke Ellington's most enduring evergreens, and alternates every other track with either pianist Renee Rosnes or Cyrus Chestnut. They do play together on the title cut, though it's hardly noticeable that you're hearing "dueling" pianos. There's little stylistic difference between the two on this recording, (vast contrasts on their own projects, though.) Both are extraordinary interpreters and improvisers. If anything, Rosnes is a bit more modern while Chestnut has more soul. But their love for Ellington is clear, and with drummer Billy Drummond stoking the fires aside Mraz's world-class bass playing, it is a given some excellent music will be made. Perhaps Chestnut shines most brightly when he stretches out on "Take the 'A' Train" or "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," but his subtle shadings on "Mood Indigo" also make hairs rise. Rosnes is quite adept at reinventing melodic and harmonic refrains, her takes on "Angelica" and "Caravan" are leaps and bounds above mere mortal endeavor. On "Star Crossed Lovers" she is at her most serene and pensive. If Ellington's music is the perfect embodiment of swing, style, and bluesy inference, these two knock down all the pins in all the frames. Of course Mraz and Drummond are also in the hunt with every measure, Mraz has an uncanny way of intently listening and feeling his way through changes, picking perfect note after note. Drummond is always astounding, but can tone it down to not get in the way of his mates. He is the perfect combination of taste and chops, and is a dynamic wizard, whether playing a ballad, blues or upbeat. Mraz is easily a top five bassist, and with this crew takes his rep up yet another notch. These may be basic piano trio recordings, but the material and the musicianship are far from elementary, displaying a certain gumption. Highly recommended, and a marvelous tribute to Duke, especially in the Ellington centennial.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos