This CD reissues three unusual combo dates by Duke Ellington. Two of the sessions feature Ellington and his longtime musical partner Billy Strayhorn both playing piano (while assisted by either Wendell Marshall or Joe Shulman on bass and sometimes an unidentified drummer). The futuristic "Tonk" is the best-known performance but all eight numbers (which include "Cotton Tail" and "Johnny Come Lately") are quite fascinating. The remaining date has four songs that primarily serve as features for the cello of Oscar Pettiford who is accompanied by Ellington, bassist Lloyd Trotman, drummer Jo Jones and (on two tunes) the celeste of Strayhorn; "Perdido" and "Take the 'A' Train" are most memorable. Intriguing music.
Duke at the Roadhouse: Live in Santa Fe features clarinetist Eddie Daniels and pianist Roger Kellaway in concert performing a variety of songs by the great Duke Ellington. Also joining in on several songs is cellist James Holland. Recorded as a benefit concert for the New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding, the album is a swinging and highly entertaining set that showcases the sensitive group interplay between Daniels and Kellaway. While most of the songs here are standards, the approach is anything but, and tracks like "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Sophisticated Lady" have a languid, poetic, and harmonically sophisticated quality that speaks to the high level of craft on display here. Anyone who loves these musicians will want to seek out this superb album.