When Duke Ellington's sidemen recorded on their own, the Duke's influence often had a way of asserting itself even if he was nowhere near the studio. This was true in the 1930s and 1940s, and it was true on some of Paul Gonsalves' recordings of the 1960s. Nonetheless, Gonsalves was his own man, and this excellent CD points to the fact that the breathy tenor saxophonist wasn't afraid to enter a variety of musical situations.
Paul Gonsalves was considered some kind of new genius of the tenor saxophone after he blew an astounding 27 choruses with Duke Ellington's Orchestra on the Duke's "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. As part of RCA's reissue series to celebrate Ellington's 100th birthday, Ellingtonia Moods & Blues brings back a 1960 date featuring Gonsalves and other Ellington soloists. Although nominally credited to Gonsalves, this, in fact, is a co-chaired date with Johnny Hodges. Hodges shares the composing, arranging and – as always – swinging soloing.
Tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves will be remembered by many for his riotous 27 choruses on the Newport recording of "Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue." As with other prime Ellington soloists like Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, Gonsalves was given ample room to display his wares live and in the studio. Duke's faith in Gonsalves was certainly made clear at Newport and is proven again on this very enjoyable showcase. Unbeknownst to Gonsalves, though, Ellington planned the session as a vehicle for his soloist's considerable skills.
Two obscure but very enjoyable and complementary former Lps are reissued in full on this generous CD. The first half of the disc is primarily a showcase for trumpeter Clark Terry who is joined by Mike Simpson (on tenor and flute) in a sextet. C.T. sounds a bit more influenced by Dizzy Gillespie at this time than he would but he was already quite distinctive on such numbers as "Candy," "Blues For Daddy O's Jazz Patio Blues" and "Basin Street Blues." "Phalanges" is a hot bop line (by Louie Bellson) that deserves to be revived while "Trumpet Mouthpiece Blues" sounds like an ancestor of "Mumbles."