Gene DiNovi

Plays Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn Live

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Every April, for the entire week surrounding Duke Ellington's birthday, the brilliant pianist Gene DiNovi commits himself to an extended run of nightly tributes to the Duke and his visionary collaborator, Billy Strayhorn. It happens at the Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club in Toronto, Canada. What you have here is a full set of live jazz well-played in a friendly atmosphere. Bassist Dave Young interacts wonderfully with DiNovi, whose brief spoken commentary between the tunes works uncommonly well, bringing further intimacy to an already relaxed atmosphere. The opening track, "Tomorrow Mountain," hails from Ellington's 1946 Broadway musical Beggar's Holiday. In this exciting curtain-raiser there is also a direct connection with Lena Horne, with whom DiNovi worked for several years and to whom the album is dedicated. This piano/bass duo appears comfortable with and eminently capable of handling the extended dynamic range to be found in the music of Ellington and Strayhorn. The powerfully percussive "Money Jungle" intensity of "Cop Out" is beautifully balanced with two gorgeous medleys: "Single Petal of a Rose/Flower is a Lovesome Thing" and "Chelsea Bridge/Warm Valley." A richly rewarding nightclub jazz recital, easy to groove to and therefore highly recommended.

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