One of the greatest pitfalls of paying homage to musical masterminds through tribute albums is that songs can easily end up sounding like hollow shells of the original work. On the other hand, when musicians use their own distinct musical voices to converse with the material they admire, sparks can really start to fly-and that's what exactly happens on His Mistress Never Sleeps… a tribute to the Life and Music of Duke Ellington by the Ken Aldcroft trio +1.
A quartet made up of Aldcroft on guitar, Brian Harding on trombone, Bernie Arai on drums and Graham Ord on sax, the group covers a range of Ellington tunes from Evening Peace to Lady Mac, and from Take the Coltrane to Sonnet for Caeser. Without bass, Aldcroft's inventively original arrangements have an airy, ethereal sound; the trombone adds a pleasant quirky quality, and the drums bring the whole sound back to earth. The result is an album that's likely to please fans of Dave Douglas and Keith Jarrett as it is to satisfy the most ardent Duke die-hards.