09. Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra / A Portrait of Duke Ellington (1960)
This is a portrait of Dizzy Gillespie doing Duke Ellington, and the set doesn't sound a bit like Ellington or Billy Strayhorn. I'm impressed with how clearly Gillespie's voice comes through. For instance, Ellington may have written it, but when he plays the sparse and striking "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," it's all Gillespie's blues. The 15-piece orchestra seems a touch soft or underutilized in Fisher's charts, certainly not as punchy as the Duke's band, but a few of his patiently developed arrangements create additional melancholic depth ("Chelsea Bridge" and "Come Sunday" come to mind). All arrangements put a focus on the leader, and to this end the result is dazzling. Playful orchestral counterpoint is notable in "Caravan," followed by some of the Dizzy's most beautiful playing in "Sophisticated Lady."