1. It's Something That You Ought to Know
3. The Line-Up
4. Way, Way Back
6. I'm Beginning to See the Light
7. D. A. Blues
9. J. and B. Blues
10. I Surrender Dear
11. Hard Groove
12. Low Gravy
13. I Cover the Waterfront
14. Gettin' Together
Paul Gonsalves - Tenor sax
Johnny Hodges - Alto sax
Ray Nance - Trumpet
Mitchell "Booty" Wood - Trombone
Jimmy Jones - Piano
Al Hall - Bass
Oliver Jackson - Drums
Paul Gonsalves - Tenor sax
Nat Adderley - Cornet (tracks 8, 9, 11, 12, 14)
Wynton Kelly - Piano
Sam Jones - Bass
Jimmy Cobb - Drums
Some of the finest recordings by jazz small groups in the late thirties and early forties were those made by units composed of musicians from the Duke Ellington Orchestra. These arose when manager Irving Mills set up his own record labels which released small-group recordings featuring Ducal personnel. When bassist Jimmy Blanton died in 1942, the stream of recordings dried up.
Fortunately individual members of Duke's band took it upon themselves to assemble groups for recording sessions such as the two we have on this CD. They were the only sessions recorded in 1960 which used Paul Gonslaves as a leader and they present us with an interesting contrast which exhibits Paul's versatility.
The first LP, originally called Ellingtonia Moods and Blues, had Paul as part of a front line composed of colleagues from the Ellington band. On the second LP - originally entitled Gettin' Together! - Paul led a quintet which might be described as "modern" rather than "mainstream". Gonsalves thrives in both settings. The breadth of his abilites is understandable from the fact that he played in bands led not only by the Duke but also Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie, so he was comfortable with bebop as well as swing.
On the first seven tracks, Paul's swirling tenor sax blends beautifully with Johnny Hodges' rhapsodic alto. In fact, Gonsalves sounds rather like Hodges at times, with a sweet, swooping style - for instance, in the theme statement of Daydream. Paul's breathy tone also reminds us of another Ellingtonian: Ben Webster. Ray Nance's trumpet adds extra bite, although his positioning on one side of a wide stereo spread presents difficulties for lazy reviewers like myself who like lying in bed listening with a headphone in only one ear! Trombonist "Booty" Wood contributes a nice growling solo to D. A. Blues.
In those aforementioned thirties and forties sessions, the musicians couldn't resist the Ellington repertoire and the same is true here, with several Ducal pieces alongside a couple of Gonsalves originals: Chocataw, which has an Ellingtonian blues feeling, and The Line-Up, which has a sparkling piano introduction by pianist Jimmy Jones and a theme which is very Ellingtonian.
The mood changes for the last eight tracks, with a more modern atmosphere and no Ellington connections. Nat Adderley's cornet hots things up and drummer Jimmy Cobb makes some extrovert contributions, while Wynton Kelly supplies some tasteful piano solos. Paul seems entirely at ease in the up-tempo beboppish J. and B. Blues, and equally at home in moody ballads like I Surrender Dear and I Cover the Waterfront. Although I say this session is more "modern", there is a surprise item composed by Jelly Roll Morton: a slow rocking blues called Low Gravy.
Paul Gonsalves has tended to be categorised as the tenorist who revived the Ellington orchestra's fortunes with his amazingly long solo at Newport in 1956. Yet he was much more than a crowd-pleaser, as this splendid disc proves: 76 minutes of joyful music-making by some masters of the jazz art.