Norris Turney is probably best known as the man who took alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges' chair (but obviously, didn't replace him) in Duke Ellington's orchestra. So it is not surprising that this 1978 studio session has several other Ellington alumni present, including trombonist Booty Wood, bassist Aaron Bell, drummer Sam Woodyard, as well as pianist Raymond Fol. That doesn't mean that this is the typical date of alumni rehashing the Ellington songbook; the only number present by their late leader is the popular ballad "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart," which is heard in a rather extended arrangement. The band gels rather nicely, with Turney and Wood exchanging swinging solos, even though Bell and Woodyard had long since departed Ellington by the time the two had joined the band. The swinging music includes two takes of a nice riff blues by Turney that is comparable to the compositions of Johnny Hodges, while Turney's "Biarritz" is a somewhat obvious though enjoyable reworking of "Blue Skies." Turney switches to flute for both takes of the foot tapping and somewhat complex blues that is deceptively called "Simplicity," (written by another Ellington veteran, Harold Ashby). Bell's delightful "Didier's Dance" sounds much like some of the early-'60s soul-jazz recorded by Cannonball Adderley. Swing fans should consider picking up this excellent French CD.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden