Dee Dee Bridgewater

Prelude to a Kiss: The Duke Ellington Album

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This release is more properly identified as a various artists compilation, which includes the pop sounds of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Most of the orchestrations and arrangements are pleasant, even if they're not blatantly original. Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson is superb on "Mood Indigo" and the exotic "Fleurette Africaine." The orchestra does a fine job with the rarely heard suite "Night Creature." Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater shines frequently; backed by a superb quartet including Wynton Marsalis, she delivers a delightful cover of "I'm Beginning To See The Light." But it is her hypnotic, chanting introduction, backed by Middle Eastern percussion and Steve Turre's conch shells, that gives this release an occasional freshness usually lacking in similar Ellington tributes.

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