By the late '80s, Mercer Ellington was leading a part-time Duke Ellington Orchestra (he should have used his own name to avoid confusion with the classic band) and doing his best to preserve Duke's legacy. In addition to fresh versions of some vintage tunes (including "C Jam Blues," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "Jack the Bear," and Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing"), this CD contains Duke's obscure "Queenie Pie Reggae" (which features a steel drummer) and a couple of Mercer's originals, including the five-movement (but generally uneventful) "Music Is My Mistress." Among the better-known soloists are trumpeter Barrie Lee Hall (the last significant player to emerge from Duke Ellington's Orchestra), guest pianist Roland Hanna (Mulgrew Miller was the regular pianist at the time), clarinetist Bill Easley, and (on "The Duke's Suite") altoist Kenny Garrett. An interesting if not essential set.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow