Savvy with The Savoy Ellingtons

The kids’ hearts are in the proper place …

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That was the feeling jumping around The Rialto Theater on Friday in Montreal. The children of Duke Ellington – April and Edward Jr., suspended in time. Starting with their clothes, the duo transcended time and place right back to the era of the Big Band prominence of the 1940’s.

With the big band boppin’ behind them, along with the choice of classic songs, an easy -to-please audience was right for the pickin’. Easy to please because those in attendance – got exactly what they came for. Swing, swing and more swing.

April, along with gowns fit for the era of her Father Duke – exchanging voices with brother Edward Jr. Together and apart. A duo and solo. Back and forth they went with classic vaudevillian banter showcasing the time their Father was the king of everything grand in music.

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Amid the grandiose and renovated Rialto Theater – Frank Sinatra staples ‘Fly Me to the Moon‘, ‘I’ve Got the World on a String‘ and ‘ Come Fly with Me‘ – seemed to be at home. The vocals carried simply yet powerfully by Edward Jr. The entire time – delivering the right words to demonstrate how he and his sister are carrying the legacy of their Father and people like Sinatra to ensure the music’s survival. Edward Jr. – the stronger vocalist of the pair, as charming as his sister. Working the crowd yet allowing the backing big band to take over (as they should). Brassy and filled with foot – stomping’ numbers. A trip back to a greater time in music when the artists seemed bigger than life. A time when Facebook and Twitter – did not allow a peek into the performer’s lives …

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April delivered the portion of the show meant for the lady singers who led the way for women like Lady Ga Ga and Madonna to reap millions.

Peggy Lee‘s ‘Fever’ – a highlight if only for the reason that most young people know Madonna’s version and Elvis Presley’s ‘ gyrating – sexy’ version from his ‘Aloha from Hawaii‘ television special. April sung Lee’s version as if Peggy herself appeared via a ghostly figure. It was a special moment and commenced the trip down memory lane for most in attendance. “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)” – ( a song that Dad Duke wrote the music for and was recorded by more than fifty artists including Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday), sung almost to perfection by April. After all – once Holiday sang it, everyone else cannot meet perfection or come close.

The surprise of the night was Lady Alicia …

The Ellington’s Mother, arrived on stage and sung her heart out. God bless her. Surprisingly – she did a bang on job considering her age. If Ella could carry it out – so can Miss Alicia. With a roar to the twenties and an ear to the forties, the lady was definitely not a tramp.

The third -to-home trot, complete with a wink towards Duke Ellington.

‘It Don’t Mean a Thing ( if it ain’t got that swing)’, ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ duke-ellington-1and ‘Take the A Train’ – just a few of the numbers from Duke’s vast catalog, displayed with conviction by the Big Band, April and Edward Jr. Let’s not forget – back in the day, these songs were the ‘Satisfactions’, ‘Hey Judes’ and ‘ Like a Rolling Stone’ of the time. Thousands attending and listening to – the sounds of orchestras led by Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey and …

Duke Ellington.

A man whose heart was in the proper place and after all these years – remains as prominent as ever. His kids – doing their best to keep the legacy alive.

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