Diggin ‘the Duke is a new CD on which Deborah Carter shines a very new and personal light on known and unknown repertoire of Duke Ellington. Deborah Mark Zandveld, and Leo Bouwmeester wrote, from a contemporary perspective, new arrangements to his compositions, and Deborah composed original lyrics to a few of his instrumentals. They use a variety of swing, Latin and fusion rhythms and adventurous harmonies.
Dutch (Nederlandse) CD release 30 May 2015
Worldwide release September 2015
“On Diggin ‘the Duke [Deborah J. Carter] takes on the work of Duke Ellington. Using the high quality content of the original compositions as a foundation, Carter can express all facets of her personality in the material at hand. She possesses all the technique needed and she applies it, but it’s the treatment of the lyrics that draws you in. Her scats are creative and provocative. Carter has the musicians around her who she deserves.
Diggin ‘the Duke came out as a tasteful, sophisticated document that will find its way outside of the jazz world, because Carter seems to appeal to a wide audience.”
Het Parool – Jan Jasper Tamboer
“With fresh, original arrangements, Deborah Carter presents ‘Diggin’ The Duke!’ a tribute to big band leader and composer Edward “Duke” Ellington (1899 – 1974). The album contains a mixture of well-known and less-frequently played work.
Most surprising are the beautiful ballad ‘Satin Doll’ which is usually played faster but is, in this way gaining depth, and an up-tempo version of the often slowly performed ‘Solitude’. The arrangements penned by bassist Mark Zandveld and pianist Leo Bouwmeester lend to the work of Ellington a modern sound, without causing injustice to the spirit of the great composer – on the contrary.
On ‘Diggin’ the Duke!’, many musicians made guest appearances. Alex Simu plays virtuoso clarinet d’amour on the opening track ‘Petite Fleur Africaine’ and the cheerful, jubilant ‘I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues’. Efraim Trujillo is present on five numbers with striking tenor saxophone parts, which especially emerges well on the funky ‘Harlem Nocturne’ (not by Ellington himself, but regularly performed by him) and on the fast ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing’. To ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ and ‘Melancholia’, on which Carter sings a text from Norah Jones, Hermine Deurloo adds a melancholic atmosphere with her a distinctive harmonica playing. The light R & B content of the album, which never dominates, is introduced on ‘The Gal from Joe’s’ by the relaxed guitar contribution of Mateusz Pulawski.
Two compositions are not by Ellington himself, but about him. Composer Emiel Wienholts named his contribution to the CD after the autobiography of the Duke, ‘Music Is My Mistress’. And the ballad ‘The First Time I Heard Ellington’ (Schaefer / Larimer), with a beautiful piano intro by Bouwmeester, is a fine ending to the album.
The atmosphere of ‘Diggin ‘The Duke!’ is light and the music swings continuously. Arrangers Bouwmeester and Zandveld show in their virtuoso and respectful relationship with the work of Duke what a power his compositions still contain. Finally, Ellington’s legacy seems to fit Deborah Carter like a glove. With ‘Diggin ‘The Duke’, she has delivered a magnificent homage.”
David Cohen – Jazzenzo, September 2015
“There are many tribute projects. You can place them roughly into the following categories. First, the “whatever-projects” you take the name of a celebrity and then bungle his hits in a mainstream interpretation.
Second, the ‘who-does-the-hero-think-he-is” type, a concert or album that lacks any respect for the musical essence of the model.
But fortunately we still have the “big-respect-but-then-in-my way” type. It is in this category that this album from singer and flutist Deborah J. Carter fits. She sings fifteen pieces, with a trio as base (pianist Leo Bouwmeester and bassist Mark Zandveld plus guests like saxophonist Efraim Trujillo and harmonica player Hermine Deurloo).
These are not run-of-the-mill arrangements: each time she adds a deliberate original touch to known and lesser known pieces. Purple Gazelle lp Afro Bossa (which Ellington first called Angelica) is a good example. Deborah Carter adds a witty and brilliant twist to it.”
Coen de Jonge – Jazzism, September 2015
She has tackled The Beatles before, so why not also dedicate an album to Duke Ellington? For the African-American singer Deborah J. Carter, who lives in the Netherlands, no challenge is too big for her, and so she decided, with husband Mark Zandveld on bass, Leo Bouwmeester on piano and Gunnar Graafmans on drums, to re-arrange thirteen titles of Duke. On top of that she added two originals: ‘Music is my mistress’ byEmiel Wienholts, and ‘The first time I heard Ellington’ by Hal Schaefer and Bob Larimer to the tribute album ‘Diggin ‘The Duke’. Carter has become such a big name that she probably had little trouble finding five guests willing to contribute, including the phenomenal Hermine Deurloo on harmonica.
As we are used to from her previous five albums, the production is impeccable. The singer is always working with true professionals and this does not apply just to her accompanists. But ultimately it’s all about the smooth, well-trained voice, which is ready to handle everything. Carter uses her instrument like a horn player, with lots of sliding notes and “chops”.
Carter fully respects the majestic work of Ellington, but she has no problem in presenting totally unique versions of classics like ‘Solitude’, ‘Satin Doll’, ‘It do not mean a thing’ and ‘Do not get arround much anymore’. It all sounds very natural and she swings like mad.
Jazzflits – Hans Invernizzi