PAUL GONSALVES is one of those known as an ”Ellington musician” — and quite properly so, for he has been a key member of the Duke's sax section for a full decade. Being a long-time Ellington man is in itself a solid stamp of approval, for that leader has always managed to surround himself with top-level men, and has certainly never tolerated mediocrity for very long. Over the years, Duke's sidemen have of course often led groups on records. But perhaps the most intriguing fact about this album is the quickly-obvious point that it is a most unusual recording to have been made by an ”Ellington musician,” breaking all the ’rules’ for such dates. For there are no other Ellingtonians, past or present, on hand here, and no tunes associated with the Duke!
Quite deliberately, Gonsalves is “Gettin’ Together” here with some of the best ‘blowing’ musicians available for a free-swinging session that demonstrates Paul's ability to stand up and take care of business in a very different context from the one he is usually associated with. The tenor man (whose big, round, hearty tone is in sharp contrast to his thin face and quiet manner) can play with the best of them. And this fact has never been a secret to musicians. Thus the kind of men he wanted to have on his album turned out to be delighted at being offered the chance to get with Gonsalves. It is therefore no accident that you find him surrounded by top talent from two of the foremost small groups in jazz today; Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb being two-thirds of Miles Davis’ rhythm section; and Sam Jones and Nat Adderley from the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
Gonsalves was born in Boston (on July 12, 1920) and raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In the early 1940s he was a prominent member of Sabby Lewis’ Boston band; after Army service, he played with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie before joining Ellington in 1950. Paul wryly notes that most people know of him primarily because of the sensational impact of the 28 (or was it 29?) choruses he played between Crescendo in Blue and Diminuendo in Blue during an Ellington appearance at a Newport Jazz Festival in the late '50s. But his repertoire here covers a lot more ground than that: beginning with a remarkable soft-swinging version of the standard Yesterday, he moves through a collection of hard-cookers, blues and ballads (displaying an unsuspected and impressive mastery of ballad tempo on “I Surrender Dear” and “I Cover the Waterfront”. It is all accomplished in a manner that is sure to be a considerable and pleasant surprise to a lot of people who have previously type-cast Gonsalves as limited to the strictly-Ellington groove.
Original liner notes by Orrin Keepnews and Chris Albertson
Paul Gonsalves - Tenor Saxophone
Nat Adderley - Cornet
Wynton Kelly - Piano
Sam Jones - Bass
Jimmy Cobb - Drums
1. Yesterdays (Kern & Harbach)
2. J. And B. Blues (Liveramento)
3. I Surrender, Dear (Barris & Clifford)
4. Hard Groove (Unknown)
5. Low Gravy (Morton)
6. I Cover the Waterfront (Green & Heyman)
7. Gettin' Together (Gonsalez)
8. Walkin' (Carperner)
Recorded 20th December 1960 - NYC, USA
Reissued 1987 - Fantasy/OJC OJCCD-203-2