June 2012 CD of the Month
Duke Ellington Legacy "Single Petal of a Rose" Renma Recordings
The Duke Ellington Legacy lives up its name and heritage. Founded by Duke Ellington’s grandson, the ensemble takes the music of the legendary jazz master and adds some modern elements to the elegance the original orchestra was renowned for, yet keeps its swingin’ into the future. For their second outing, Single Petal of a Rose on the Renma Recordings label, the Ellington Legacy features invited guest Houston Person on tenor sax whose solos are reminiscent of the great Paul Gonsalves. Nancy Reed is the invited vocalist on 4 of the CD’s 14 entries. The veteran Norman Simmons is the pianist and primary arranger, he also contributes 2 compositions. The band’s co-leader and Music Director is saxophonist/clarinetist/arranger, Virginia Mayhew who is responsible for convincing Duke’s grandson, guitarist Edward Kennedy Ellington II to come out of a self-imposed exile from music.
Edward Kennedy Ellington II is the son of Mercer Ellington- Duke’s first born who named his 2nd son after his legendary band leader father. When Edward II was a young man, the Duke would occasionally take him on tour. After Duke passed away, Mercer who had been with his father’s band as a trumpeter, arranger and composer for decades inherited the orchestra and used his son Edward II as the band’s guitarist and “roadie” After 5 years on the road, Edward Ellington left the orchestra and music as a whole. After 20 years he returned to music and along with his sister Gayle Ellington and Ms. Mayhew founded the Duke Ellington Legacy in 2003. Not merely a “tribute” or ghost” band, the Duke Ellington Legacy is a continuum of the foundation laid down by the namesake of the ensemble, moreover it’s adding to it!