Ballin' The Jack Jungle

1999 is the centenary of Duke Ellington’s birth and Jungle celebrates Duke’s Jungle Band that rose to fame during a legendary tenure at NYC’s Cotton Club. Seven of 11 compositions are by Duke, while Rex Stewart’s “Menelik” was first recorded by his Orchestra and “Limehouse Blues” uses Ellington’s arrangement. “Dawn On the Desert” by Charlie Shavers and “Texas Shuffle” by Herschel Evans complete a rich recreation of the swing era as Ballin’ The Jack deliver solid versions of “Happy Go Lucky Local,” “Rockin’ In Rhythm,” “Wanderlust,” “Mood Indigo” and “Jeep’s Blues.” Ben Sher’s elegant acoustic guitar adds authentic edges to performances that find the trumpet of Frank London, the trombone of Art Baron and the reeds of Matt Darriau and Andy Laster in inspired form. If you want to hear why real swing has endured for almost 70 years, Jungle is highly recommended. (Knitting Factory)