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August 1999

"Temperley's tracks impressively catch the essence of jazz... one of the best Ellington tribs of the 100th anniversary year."

Martin Gayford
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), July 1999

"Authentic bit of Ellingtonia led by saxophonist Joe Temperley (described by Wynton Marsalis as 'the most soulful sound ever to come out of Scotland') and the trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, whose skill with the plunger mute would have made Duke want to employ him immediately.”

Clive Davis
, July 1999

"Temperley's broad brushstrokes make telling use of space."

Nashville Scene, June 1999

"Temperley's new release Double Duke, on the Franklin-based Naxos imprint, shouldn't be overlooked in the deluge of Ellington reissues released in connection with the composer/bandleader's centennial celebration this year. Besides his buoyant baritone work, the saxophonist demonstrates masterful abilities on soprano and bass clarinet, providing first-rate readings and solos on Billy Strayhorn's "Rain Check," Ellington's "Creole Love Call," and George Gershwin's "Fascinatin' Rhythm."

His quintet, includes trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, a fellow Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra member and one of the finest plunger/mute stylists around today. Gordon's slurs, smears, and horn work are uncannily close to echoing "Tricky" Sam Nanton, especially on "Black and Tan Fantasy." Pianist Eric Reed, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Herlin Riley comprise a strong rhythm section, while Temperley doubles as producer."

Jason Koransky
DownBeat Magazine, May 1999

Baritone saxophonist/bass clarinetist Joe Temperley will travel to Russia, China and all over Europe this summer as a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. But he's also been able to focus a bit of attention on projects of his own. The man who replaced Harry Carney in the Mercer Ellington Orchestra in 1974 and a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra since its inception in 1990, Scotland native Temperley released the album Double Duke (Naxos Jazz) on May 11. The date finds him with some of his Lincoln Center cohorts: trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Eric Reed, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Herlin Riley. The nine-track album comprises four Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn covers, curious takes on tune such as "Try A Little Tenderness" and "Danny Boy" and several other tasty cuts.

We caught up with Temperley at his New York home the afternoon before a date with the orchestra at Alice Tully Hall.

Did you ever expect this sort of treatment of Ellington on his centennial?

It's been beyond my expectations. I thought that when I was with the Ellington band that that was it, and then I did [the Broadway show] Sophisticated Ladies, which was a wonderful experience. But this has topped everything. And there's a whole lot more to come that I'm looking forward to, like the summer tour and the fall tour, then there's the small group tour in November and the Sacred Concerts at the end of the year. So it's really something to look forward to.

And in the midst of all this Ellington activity, you have the new album.

It's with some of the guys from the Lincoln Center band. I'm really very excited about it. I've even heard one of the songs on WBGO already.

One of the elements of the album that I'm really impressed with are the back to back ballads, "Try A Little Tenderness" and "Elsa." It really slows down to a beautiful slow tempo.

Thank you. I didn't know what to play on the ballads. I didn't want to play another Ellington tune, because I've recorded so many Ellington ballads. I finally came up with this tune.

Where did you learn how to interpret ballads?

Playing a ballad is just like singing a song. My whole approach to playing is very vocal. I can't play anything that I can't sing.

"Danny Boy" was an interesting selection.

Oh yeah. I don't know. That was Wycliff's idea. He's one of a kind. They threw away the mold when they made Wycliff, because he comes up with his own stuff all the time. He doesn't play exactly like Tricky Sam [Nanton], but he's close. He's another person who's extremely vocal.

How did you decide which Ellington tunes to put on the album?

It just went like clockwork. We said, "Let's play 'Black And Tan Fantasy,'" and we played it. The same with "Creole Love Call." I wanted to do "Rain Check" with Wycliff, even though I had recorded it before. We were going to do "Rubber Bottom," but I started to play "Cottontail" while Wycliff was playing "Rubber Bottom." So we decided to put them together, since they're both based on the changes to "I Got Rhythm," and we called it "Double Duke."

How did you get hooked up with the Naxos label?

When I was in Australia with the band, I played a solo, I think on "Sophisticated Lady." Mike Nock happened to be at the concert. He's the A&R man for the label, and he asked me to do the record. It just fell into place. It was the first time I had met him.

Stanley Dance wrote your liner notes.

It was sad about his passing, but I'm so thrilled that the last thing Stanley did in print was write the liner noted to my record. I knew him for a long time. He was a beautiful man, and he used to always come to our Lincoln Center concerts when we were in Southern California.

Between all of this activity with Lincoln Center, what else have you been able to do?

It takes up most of my time. But I'm going to play a couple of festivals in Scotland in August. I also have another album, called With Every Breath, that was released on Hep records out of Edinburgh. I play a few ballads on there too. It's in the shops now, and has been for the last few months.

C. Michael Bailey
All About Jazz

All of the musicians on this disc have worked with Marsalis at it shows. They exude his work and performance ethic with often greater warmth and personality than Marsalis himself.... His baritone playing is uniformly fine on "Raincheck", Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism", and "Try a Little Tenderness". His bass clarinet really shines on "Creole Love Call." His playing is smooth and mellow, like a mint julep without the julep. And finally, his soprano is super on "Creole", and "Black and Tan Fantasy". Eric Reed turns in fine performances on "Creole" (obviously the disc's highlight) and "Elsa". The rhythm section is what one would expect-outstanding"

Double Duke continues Naxos Jazz's perfect season of record releases. This disc certainly goes to the forefront of Naxos Jazz releases dealing exclusively with standards. The liner notes are written by Ellington biographer and music critic Stanley Dance, who died March 2, 1999. Double Duke is warmly recommended."

Steve Voce
Jazz Journal

"Stanley Dance in his liner, almost the last thing he wrote, confirms Temperley's credentials as an Ellingtonian and draws the inevitable link to Carney. But once that's out of the way this is, despite the four Ellington or Strayhorn numbers, a typically original set by our most distinguished export. Joe has been working for Wynton Marsalis for some years now, and Marsalis has booked up Joe's diary until more than a year from now. All the musicians here are colleagues from the Wynton-led Lincoln Center Orchestra that played here recently.

Temperley's choice of material is invariably sure footed and varied, as has been shown by all his albums so far. This one is no exception. The baritone frisks and tumbles as though it was an alto (try Rain Check and the scintillating Tricrotism) and Joe's soprano has a more vivid presence here than I have heard before on record. Most players who use the soprano as a second instrument make it just that and one feels a reluctant obligation on their part. Not so Temperley, and his mastery of the recalcitrant beast leads me to believe that he is its finest exponent. He's in similar charge of the bass clarinet, heard here on Creole and Black And Tan. He moves in what for anyone else would be the uncomfortable upper reaches and then moves to the bottom of the instrument in the space of one note. But this is not mere virtuosity for, as you will know, Temperley is a trenchant and communicating natural perhaps best thought of in the tradition of Zoot and Al. Wycliff Gordon has been around for years but we must regard him as a major new find on trombone. He sounds like real jazz musicians used to sound, if you know what I mean. He makes an exuberant partner and is the latest in a small line of trombonists who have mastered the Nanton style. Black And Tan becomes a tour de force that would have made Duke feel at home here. One expected Danny Boy to be one of Joe's solo folk song stories, but it is a well plungered solo by the lugubrious and lubricious trombone. He and Joe skip joyously through the ensembles, with Joe as agile on baritone as he is on soprano. The rhythm section is skilled and sympathetic with eloquent solos from Reed.

Rubber Bottom was Clark Terry's Cottontail variant for an obscure reel-to-reel that he made in the Fifties. Here Gordon plays it against Joe's statement of the more familiar theme. There is then an episode of what can only be described as Slam Stewart trombone. It must be heard to be understood.

But you can hear it. The incredibly low cost of this disc makes one wonder why other companies can't produce top class albums at the same price."

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