As Close To Live as You'll Get in a Studio Recording
I. Gross Georg | Edmond, Oklahoma USA | 10/06/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording was nominated for a Grammy in 1991 for best Traditional Pop recording but lost to a recording by Tony Bennett. They like to go with whoever's popular at the Grammys. But no matter: I have my own nominations and awards to dole out for this beauty.BEST USE OF CD SPACE. You get 57 whole minutes of music on this one. This is done primarily with the help of 6 short instrumental fillers between 12 great songs.BEST USE OF A CATHEDRAL IN A NON-GOSPEL SETTING. Mathis recorded the whole thing at Petersham Church in London, England. You can hear every shuffle, the occasional sniffle and cough, as well as Mathis' rich, reverberating tenor.BEST SUBJECT MATTER. The music of Duke Ellington is almost forgotten nowadays, especially to those who don't follow jazz. Mathis offers up this reminder of past greatness for a new generation to witness.BEST USE OF BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY. George Hurrell's beautiful cover photography is reminiscent of the works of James Van Der Zee and the great publicity photographers of the jazz age.This recording is clean and satisfying. The opening gives you a start with its instrumental tribute to Harlem nightlife, but it settles down by the time it gets to Daydream. This recording is a series of one-and two-take sessions that is the closest thing to a live recording you'll find in a studio recording. Very little monkeying around technologically speaking, just pure, clean song. Which is what Mathis excels at."
An unrecognized hallmark in American recording history
Douglas J. Richardson | 12/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My favorite singer is Frank Sinatra, yet my favorite album in the whole world is this terrific tribute to Duke Ellington by Johnny Mathis.Some called it progress when live orchestras were abandoned for computers and tracking. This album recaptures the magic of reuniting artist and orchestra. The results are terrific.Mathis is in great voice. The arrangements are terrific. Great song choice (although I would like to see what he could have done with "Caravan"). My choices for best tracks? Probably "In A Mellow Tone" and "Come Sunday".I hope that Mr. Mathis eventually drops his current tendency to record with synthesizers and computers and goes back to what he does best--great American songs.Also check out Tony Bennett's "Hot and Cool" tribute to the Duke."
Unnecessarily High Keys Distort Ellington's Material
Carlos from Rio | Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil | 03/26/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
When I was young, Mathis was a big idol of mine but last decades only brought pro, not brilliant performances like this tribute. Mathis seems to wish to prove he's able to explode his throat to the extremely highest keys what undeniably distorts the sense of ellingtonian environment. Professionally performed and recorded but ... something's missing."