Duke Ellington: Black, Brown, and Beige
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, Conductor
Naxos 8.559737 (2013)
Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was a Jazz and Classical Musician who is featured at AfriClassical.com
Beyond Big Band
by Bradley Bambarger
This album looks beyond Duke Ellington's big-band masterpieces to his more rarely heard scores arranged for full orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. The taster suite here of Black, Brown & Beige - Ellington's epic midcentury tone poem on the African-American experience - has its charms. Toscanini commissioned the "tone parallel" Harlem, orchestrated by Maurice Peress; this raucous cousin to Rhapsody in Blue fizzes. Especially valuable is The River, a 1970 score for Alvin Ailey brimming with suave, soulful melodies. Ellington left another melodic ballet score, Three Black Kings, unfinished at his death, but his son, Mercer, put the finishing touches on it. The Ellington band's theme song, "Take the 'A' Train," appears as a coda - lush and performed with irresistible verve.