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Album Review

Asian American Orchestra – “Far East Suite ” – [Asianimprov Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Jazz

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Fortunately this new interpretation of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn’s “Far East Suite” swings mightily. Originally recorded in 1966, following several trips to Asia and the Middle East, the suite blends the sounds of the jazz orchestra with musical instruments and concepts from Iran, Japan and China. To commemorate Ellington’s 100th birthday, director/conductor Anthony Brown has re-arranged the work for his 12-piece Asian American Orchestra. This album contains great pieces of almost every length, from the short, swinging “Depk” to the 15- minute “Ad Lib on Nippon” that’s almost a suite unto itself. Also be sure to check out “Mount Harissa,” which starts and ends with a beautiful piano/percussion duet, and the powerful big band sound on “Amad.”

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