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The 1956-58 Small Group Recordings + 2 bonus tracks Extra tracks

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Product details

  • Audio CD (20 May 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks
  • Label: Phoenix Jazz
  • ASIN: B00CECKIZY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,636 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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The liner notes for this collection inform us that it contains all known small group sessions recorded by Duke Ellington in the studio during the 1950s. I have no reason to doubt this assertion and I'm not about to check its veracity. There is also one big band recording, included on the basis that it was recorded on the same day as one of the other sessions.

Appropriately enough, Ellington appears on the cover with tenor sax player Paul Gonzalves. Gonzalves is heavily featured. Stanley Dance tells us that: "... he (Gonzalves) was one of the greatest tenor players jazz has produced."

That's news to me, Stanley. I'm not a great fan of Gonzalves. I prefer the full sound of a Ben Webster to Gonzalves' astringent and reedy whine. I recognise that Gonzalves was a fine musician, but don't feel that his interests were best served by his success at the Newport Festival of 1956. Subsequently, he seems to have allowed himself to be pigeon holed as some kind of saxophone masochist, dragged forward to perform implausibly drawn out solos that relied too heavily on stamina and effort and too little on inspiration.

The running order of this set is plain daft. The more central the role played by Gonzalves, the earlier the session appears here. So, we get two quartet recordings starring Gonzalves first, followed by a quintet with Clark Terry added, three sessions in which Gonzalves was involved and, finally, one session from which he was omitted. And yes, the highlight of this CD is the session which does not feature Gonzalves at all, which is an absolute cracker. It was recorded in March 1956. If the CD had been ordered chronologically this session would have come first, placing the best music at the beginning. No, Lone Hill Jazz knew better.
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Format: Audio CD
I totally disagree with 'Udeen''s opinion from 2012 on Paul Gonsalves. As Stanley Dance rightly said, Gonsalves was indeed one of the greatest tenors jazz has produced. His tome is idiosyncratic, but that's what makes it so wonderful. And 'Udeen' has obviously not listened to Gonsalves properly as Gonsalves' tone is actually every bit as full as Ben Webster's, not surprising really as he was one of Ben's many disciples (such as the equally brilliant Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis). Anything with Paul Gonsalves on it gets my vote!
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