We Speak Duke – Scott Yanow, All Music Guide (AMG)
Linda Tate’s tribute to the songs of Duke Ellington, We Speak Duke , is a typically swinging affair. Tate has an attractive voice and is an expert scat-singer. Some of her renditions of Duke’s tunes are conventional although always spirited, including a scat-filled “Love You Madly,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing” (which has pianist Bradley Williams helping out on the vocals), and “In a Sentimental Mood.” Other songs have more surprises including “I Let a Song Go out of My Heart” (which is turned into Latin jazz), the inclusion of the rarely heard verse to “I’m Just a Lucky So and So,” a mysterious-sounding “Caravan,” and a rather spacy “Just Squeeze Me.” Joanie Pallatto joins Tate for a vocal duet on “In a Mellow Tone” and a few numbers add singers Gingi Lahera and Patricia Mosley. Of the supporting musicians, trombonist Audrey Morrison and Richie Fudoli (particularly on flute) make the biggest impressions although the musicianship overall is quite high. The only miss is the frivolous “We Speak Duke” (which is mostly talking by three of the vocalists), but is easily compensated by the 14 Ellington standards and the obscure “Doin’ the Crazy Walk.” Recommended.