Pinnacle by The Ted Howe Jazz Orchestra

Pianist Ted Howe offered up one of the finest of Duke Ellington tributes, the piano trio set titled simply Ellington (Summit Records, 2005). It was a heartfelt ride through some of The Duke's most familiar tunes, swinging mightily. He now steps up into Ellington-ian ensemble territory with Pinnacle, by his thirteen piece Ted Howe Jazz Orchestra.

In the old "is it classical, is it jazz?" discussion, Pinnacle definitely leans classical—but it does swing. Opening with "Presto for Two Trombones," Howe's arrangement sounds less like Ellington and more like those of trombonist J.J.Johnson on his work with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on Perceptions (Verve, 1961), brassy and magisterial before it breaks into a deep groove. Trombonists Andy Martin and Francisco Torres rip it up on their solos, and bassist John Patitucci sears his solo while his rhythm mates, guitarist Dan Baraszu and keyboardist Geoff Haydon, give the piece a ringing modernity, with a Latin tinge injected by percussionist Jose "Bam Bam" Ramirez... Read More

-Dan McClenaghan

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Dan McClenaghan review

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