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REVIEWS - SOUNDS

Title:
Duke Elegant
Artist(s):
Dr John
El-Camel's Ratings:

Label:
Parlophone
---BUY THIS ALBUM---
Reviewer:
michael white

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One of the coolest men in rock history meets and greets the historical legacy of one of the coolest men in jazz, producing a rare thing of beauty - a covers album that has an air of freshness, yet manages to retain the hallmarks of enduring quality that are the motivation for attempting any such project initially. Duke Ellington's music was made for this hands-on approach: a smitten reverence or dutiful worship at the shrine would be to insult the memory. This is music to play - to move and groove to. There is more than something of the night in the voice of the good doctor - as befits his affectionate pseudonym - the Night Tripper: and his smoky timbre and low register nasal whine is no better heard than on 'It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)' - a slab of midnight delight bound up in a foxy tuxedo.

The minimal sax of instrumental 'Perdido' winds it cheekily funky way around organ playing that is as equally crisp and light as fried Louisiana chicken. The instruments build to an oily-fingered and satisfying fusion before the return to the original theme. As with the rest of the selected tracks, the consummate ease of the arrangements reflects as great a credit on his regular band - The Lower 9-11 as it does on his intuitive keyboard skills. The doctor just carries on doing what comes naturally - extolling the virtues of his swampy thing, while tunnelling through the Ellington top drawers.

'Solitude' and 'Satin Doll' are classic jazz club sketches - nice! - chock-full of so much timeless taste that they appear fit to burst from all the calorific sophistication. 'If You Don't Get Around Much Anymore' - don't worry, as long as you have this at home the film noir / jazz age evocations conjured up will come to you in full technicolour; and er, it's totally outta sight if you can get your head around the contradiction.

There's nothing contradictory about the obvious empathy Mac lovingly wraps over the shoulders of the former champion and this album serves as a perfect entrée to the works of either artist. 'Thing's Ain't What They Used To Be' showcases the deft keyboard touches once again (what an organ… he ought to see a doctor!) all softly caressed by the gossamer light of a choppy, funk guitar and slapped up without a hitch by a nervous bass.

Forget all the inevitable clichés that are cooked up ad nauseam for the Rebennack oeuvre: it's real feelgood medicine; take a visit to the best aural clinic in town… etc. - okay, I just made them up, but even if this is the first time you've visited the surgery I'm sure you can guess the rest anyhow. No, this has all the pick-me up quality and associated street sass of illegal drugs, though with none of the associated withdrawl of the morning after. Listening to Duke Elegant ensures it's always the night before. Ah, and what a night.



Oilzine Members Reviews
Duke Elegant
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UserID:
jack
Ratings:
Review:
I fucking love RAP and Crap
Posted:
19/06/01 11:59:09
   


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