The sounds of the legendary Edward Kennedy “Duke”
Ellington continue with Single Petal of a Rose (Renma Recordings,
2012), by the Duke Ellington Legacy with special guest Houston Person.
This mid-size ensemble revisits several of the songs that were written
either by Ellington or his band member, Billy Strayhorn. One selection was
penned by Legacy pianist Norman Simmons.
This is much of a family affair. Grandson Edward Kennedy Ellington II is
the guitarist and leader of the Legacy. His sister, Gaye Ellington,
created the cover art, which is also offered to the public in a limited
edition reproduction. Proceeds of sales benefit the works of the Ellington
Legacy Foundation. For details, visit
In addition to Ellington II and Simmons, the band is comprised of tenor
saxophonists Houston Person and Virginia Mayhew, trumpeter Jami Dauber,
trombonist Noah Bless, bassist Tom DiCarlo, drummer Paul Wells,
percussionist Sheila Earley and vocalist Nancy Reed.
“Happy Go Lucky Local,” penned by Duke Ellington, is a delightful piece
also known as “Night Train.” Here, Simmons delivers the solo but it’s the
horn section that mostly carries the piece.
“Johnny Come Lately,” written by Duke Ellington band member Billy
Strayhorn, features Simmons, Mayhew, Bless, Earley and Wells. Mayhew’s
arrangement gives the piece a Latin vibe, with much of that coming from
the interplay of Wells and Earley. After the full band introduces the
song, the soloists stretch out. The overall selection runs just shy of 11
minutes, but there’s never a moment when it seems to drag or gets stuck.
The moderate pace makes it easy to dance to.
The band brings a contemporary verve to the vintage Ellington pieces. And
the one original song sounds like it could have been part of the Duke
Ellington repertoire. Single Petal of a Rose is 14 tracks of
Ellington mystique with more than an hour’s worth of enjoyment.