Duke Ellington loved women who returned the sentiment; this passion for womankind inspired his oeuvre throughout his long career. The Duke Ladies are those whom he frequented, whose portraits he painted or who sang for him, embellished with subtle and refined arrangements. His music paid homage to them with tenderness and humor.
The Duke Ladies are also the sincere and passionate feminine artists of our time who have come together to incarnate with talent and generosity the many facets of Ellington’s art. And since the maestro of charm considered that music is a woman, we dare to proclaim that women are the future of Duke! With Duke Ladies, Laurent Mignard Duke Orchestra proposes a wide instrumental and vocal range in homage to the feminine gent. Eight invited artists like Natalie Dessay, Rhoda Scott and Roberta Gambarini join the jazzwomen of the orchestra to embody with talent and generosity the multiple facets of Ellingtonian elegance.

«Best classical jazz recordings 2021» by Jazz Academy (L’Académie du Jazz)


Love you madly (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Campbell Connelly)
Black beauty (Portrait of Florence Mills) (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Tempo Music Inc)
Cotton tail (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Emi Robbins Catalog Inc)
Warm valley (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Emi Robbins Catalog Inc)
Bakiff (Juan Tizol, Campbell Connelly)
Satin doll (Edward Kennedy Ellington, John Herndon Mercer, Billy Strayhorn, Campbell Connelly)
T.G.T.T (2nd Sacred concert) (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Tempo Music Inc)
Congo square (A drum is a woman) (Edward Kennedy Ellington, United Artists Music Ltd)
Sophisticated lady (Edward Kennedy Ellington, Irving Mills, Mitchell Parish, Salabert Editions)
Balcony serenade (The Perfume Suite) (Billy Strayhorn, Campbell Connelly)
Blues for New Orleans (New Orleans Suite) (Edward Kennedy Ellington, United Artists Music Ltd)
Le sucrier velour (The Queen’s Suite) (Edward Kennedy Ellington, United Artists Music Ltd)
The tattooed bride (Edward Kennedy Ellington, United Artists Music Ltd)

Love You Madly is one of Ellington’s most emblematic popular hits. As an opening to the album Duke Ladies, Myra Maud, Natalie Dessay, Nicolle Rochelle and Sylvia Howard take turns celebrating Ellington’s magical formula, the lyrics of which were penned by Duke himself: “Love you madly, right or wrong … Sounds like a lyric of a song … And since it’s so I thought you oughta know … I love you, love you madly.”
Black Beauty dates from Ellington’s first review at the Cotton Club in Harlem in December 1927. On July 14, 1960, Ellington re-recorded Black Beauty with a smaller formation. The recording would have to wait 19 years before it was exhumed. Here, Philippe Milanta, Jérôme Etcheberry and Nicolas Grymonprez are remarkable in their faithfulness to the letter, and to the spirit, of this version.
Cotton Tail marks a turning point in Duke’s career. As of 1957, Ellington finally collaborated with Ella Fitzgerald, whom he considered to be ‘beyond category’. Given carte blanche on Cotton Tail, the “First Lady” deployed her artful scatting to transform the piece into an instrumento-vocal whirlwind. On this album, Roberta Gambarini honors us with a new version, somewhere between an homage and a personal statement. She presents the theme in her own way, doubling the instrumental sections and engaging in a rivalry of swing with the formidable Olivier Defays, inspired by the masters Ben Webster and Paul Gonsalves.
All the tracks of DUKE LADIES are carefully presented in the booklet of the album. Reading it is particularly pleasant and rewarding. You know what you have to do…

Aurélie Tropez (alto sax, clarinet)
Julie Saury (drums)
Didier Desbois (alto sax)
Frédéric Couderc (tenor sax, flute)
Olivier Defays (tenor sax)
Philippe Chagne (baritone sax, bass clarinet)
Claude Égéa, Malo Mazurié, Jérôme Etcheberry, Richard Blanchet (trumpets)
Nicolas Grymonprez , Michaël Ballue, Jerry Edwards (trombones)
Philippe Milanta (piano)
Bruno Rousselet (double bass)
Laurent Mignard (conducting)

Rhoda Scott (organ)
Natalie Dessay (vocal)
Roberta Gambarini (vocal)
Nicolle Rochelle (vocal)
Myra Maud (vocal)
Sylvia Howard (vocal)
Aurore Voilqué (violin)
Rachelle Plas (harmonica)
Carl Schlosser (tenor sax)

Produced by Paul Bessone for Juste Une Trace
Executive production by Laurent Mignard for L’Agence Musicale
Recorded by Bruno Minisini at Riffx Studio
Mixed by Carl Schlosser
Mastered by Carl Schlosser and François Terrazzoni (Parelies)
Photographs by Pascal Bouclier
Graphic Design by Alexandre Pichon
Texts by Laurent Mignard
Translation by Rebecca Cavanaugh
Special thanks to François Lacharme
With support : SCPP
Release date : 17-09-2021

In memory of Claude Carrière