This DRG release is a tribute album on many levels. To Duke ,obviously ; to Strayhorn - inseparable from Duke; to the lyricists - Carol Sloane is grown-up enough to appreciate and communicate their inspired feelings. (She also collaborated on the lyrics to "Lotus Blossom ".)
It's a pensive Sloane we hear. The songs are ballads and the settings intimate and varied. Nonpareil accompanist Mike Renzi is there throughout -at times with a trio ,augmented on four tunes by a string quartet. Sloane often records with hornmen and in this case the guest is jazz master Benny Golson who reminds us of Ben Webster in his obligaios and solos on "A Flower is a Lonesome Thing , "Daydream " , "Take Love Easy" and 'I Didn't Know Enough About You ".
Given Sloane's affinity for Ellington ,picking individual highlights just isn't easy. However I was particularly taken with her phrasing on "Sophisticated Lady ",the exposed opening to 'Don't You Know I Care "just Sloane and the bassist ,and the beautiful closer,with stringswhich took me back a while to a church /arts center in Westerly, RI late on a Saturday where i first heard her perform "Come Sunday". Finally,her singing is an implied homage to those great ladies who have left us - Lady Day ,Ella ,Sarah and Carmen. Here ,as always , Sloane proves that she belongs in that line .
Fine and Mellow !