Vibraphone demon Bill Ware and guitar wizard Marc Ribot both have well deserved reputations as doyens of the downtown avant jazz scene, players capable of pushing the music into uncharted territory. Thus, it's doubly surprising when the pair decide to not only collaborate on a duet album of Duke Ellington tunes, but to honor the Duke's work with some of the most straight-ahead playing in either man's career. There are no radical deconstructions going on here, as Ware and Ribot take on some of the most beloved gems in the Ellington catalog. Instead, there's a respectful adherence to the original melodic/harmonic framework of the tunes. The most striking aspect of the arrangements comes from the strict duo format of the album, which necessitates use of space, subtle dynamics, and a modern kind of minimalism. After listening to SIR DUKE, no one ever need wonder again about the old-school chops of these two warriors on the edge of jazz.
Recorded at Studio 900, New York.
Personnel: Bill Ware (vibraphone); Marc Ribot (guitar).
Track listing: 1. C Jam Blues 2. I Got It Bad 3. In a Sentimental Mood 4. Mood Indigo 5. It Don't Mean a Thing 6. Solitude 7. Caravan 8. Come Sunday 9. Take the -A- Train 10.Sophisticated Lady
CMJ (10/1/01, p.21) - "...The feel is like a late-night jam between friends out to prove nothing....The choice of material is non-stop Ellilngton, but the tunes take on a new life of their own..." Down Beat (1/02, pp.73-4) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...A straight, down-the-middle homage to Ellington....a warm, very melodic and sympathetic collection..." JazzTimes (5/02, pp.141-2) - "...A disc of bright, light music in the form of duets...it's all clever, pleasant music."
The attitude of the gallant Six Hundred which so aroused Lord Tennyson's admiration arose from the fact that the least disposition to ask the reason why was discouraged by tricing the would-be inquirer to the triangle and flogging him into insensibility.
Advance to Barbarism
(Mitre Press, 1968).
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