Although the theory is that you can't pay enough tribute to a master of Ellington's legend, we've all been beaten down with as many "bad" Ellington covers and tribute sets as we have good ones. I'm happy to say that the quintet on this record was able to create a true vision, their own vision, reliving Ellington's inspiration through their own eyes, the result being a truly different spin on Ellington faves. Five unique voices, including Ben Allison (bass), Matt Wilson (drums), David Berkman (piano), Joel Frahm (tenor & soprano sax) and Pete McCann (guitar), contribute to the whole of a truly enjoyable Ellington set.
Opening with Mount Harrisa, each player is gifted, solid and inspired, interpreting every nuance through a fresh new approach. Ben Allison, whose "Medicine Wheel" recording is a personal favorite, is a unique voice amongst upright bassists, and Pete McCann's guitar stylings , which carry the lead on "I Got It Bad and I Got It Good" are quite reminiscent of Bill Frisell, already adding a fresh spin on things. I've personally gotten tired of dark, understated, dry guitar tone in the mix of things, so this is refreshing.
Take The A Train is a trio trip at only a minute and a quarter long, sounding like it was delivered through the mind of John Cage (you have to hear this) - probably the most unique spin on this tune I've heard. The tune is revisited later as a duo (not much longer, but definitely as strange).
Listen to saxman Joel Frahm featured on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", while the quartet behind him swings more traditionally through this one, but Joel take a some interesting twists and turns in phrasing and off-centered melody. That seems to be the ultimate theme here, and the title of the record makes perfect sense: The "other side" of Ellington, the many sides of Ellington; how he approached each composition with a new attitude at each sitting. The players here are speaking Duke with a different tongue, giving a new approach to even the most overplayed Ellington trademark tunes.
Other standout cuts are "Wig Wise", and "Satin Doll" - which is stretched, double-timed and two-timed...the genius is apparent here, both from the Duke and the quintet.