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Dearest Duke by Carol Sloane with Ken Peplowski and Brad Hatfield

No strings. No bass. No drums. No gimmicks. Simply the warm and supple voice of Carol Sloane with Brad Hatfield at the piano and Ken Peplowski on clarinet and tenor. No problem! Sloane made her Newport Jazz Festival debut in 1961 a cappella! Right from those two words, "they say," that open "Sophisticated Lady" it's clear that this intimate setting is just right for the Ellington songbook.

This is Sloane's third (and best) Ellington album as well as her first release for Arbors. Her love for Duke's compositions and respect for the output of his often under-appreciated lyricists go back a while. "Prelude to a Kiss" and "In a Sentimental Mood." appearing here as a medley, were originally recorded by Sloane on her Columbia albums of the sixties. The latter is a lyrical collaboration of voice and tenor as the piano lays out. Pianist Brad Hatfield belongs in the select group of superb Sloane accompanists that includes Mike Renzi, Jimmy Rowles and Bill Charlap while reedman Ken Peplowski is a master of all jazz styles. " Serenade to Sweden," the only instrumental, is just one proof of their solo abilities and the subtlety of their work with Sloane is a treat for the ears.

Sloane caresses the lyrics of a number of Ellington ballads with impeccable taste and intonation. "Day Dream" with its rarely-sung verse is simply beautiful -just Sloane and Hatfield. In "I've Got It Bad," Peplowski salutes Ben Webster and in "Mood Indigo" his mellow clarinet tone provides Ellington atmosphere. She swings effortlessly on the up tempo tunes which include "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" and "I Let A Song Go Out of my Heart." Then the blues: the earthy " Rocks in my Bed" with Sloane and clarinet, segueing into " I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues." It wouldn't be Duke without humor. The set ends with a relaxed " Just Squeeze Me" vocal duet. Peplowski sings too!

Carol Sloane, now in a league all her own, deserves a very large bouquet of her favorite white roses for Dearest Duke.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Carol Sloane with Ken Peplowski and Brad Hatfield
  • CD Title: Dearest Duke
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Arbors
  • Tracks: Sophisticated Lady, Solitude, I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart/Do Nothin´ Till You Hear From Me, I Didn´t Know About You, Serenade to Sweden, Mood Indigo, Rock in My Bed/I Ain´t Got Nothin´ But the Blues, In a Sentimental Mood/Prelude to A Kiss, Day Dream, I Got It Bad and That Ain´t Good, Just A´Sittin´ and A´Rockin´/All Too Soon, Just Squeeze Me (But Don´t Tease Me).
  • Musicians: Carol Sloane (vocals), Ken Peplowski (clarinet, tenor sax), Brad Hatfield (piano).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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