Paul Gonsalves

Gonsalves’ first professional gig was in Boston with the Sabby Lewis Band. After leaving Lewis, he joined Duke Ellington in 1950. He also played briefly with Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie between 1946-1949. Gonsalves was with Ellington the rest of his adult life. His occasional withdrawals were due to his addiction to alcohol or narcotics. Gonsalves, like many Ellingtonian tenor players in the future, began by learning Ben Webster’s “Cottontail” solo note for note. But he quickly developed his own style. Gonsalves’ most notable moment was his appearance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival with Ellington. His 27-chorus bridge in the opening and closing sections “Diminuendo And Crescendo In Blue” helped to draw attention to the band and set the stage for Ellington’s “comeback”. After that, Gonsalves had to perform extended, up-tempo solos each night in order to please the gallery. This was a shame as it overshadowed his love for ballads. Gonsalves was a relaxed, thoughtful and thoughtful performer of tunes. He had a love for melody as well as the ability to create long, logical solo lines. His singing on Ellington songs such as “Happy Reunion”, “Chelsea Bridge”, “Solitude” and “Mount Harissa” from the Far East Suite is a testament to his tender, vulnerable sound. His reflections are often reflected in his playing on records outside of the Ellington aegis. Ray Nance’s 1970 album “Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin”, which includes a wonderful performance of “Don’t blame me”, is a great example. Gonsalves’ performance of “Don’t Blame Me” was even better on Love Calls (his 1967 album of duets featuring Eddie “Lockjaw”) Davis. The quality of these performances may reflect Gonsalves’s personality: He was sensitive and fragile. His career was hampered by this dual peril. He also fell prey to alcohol addiction and drug addiction early in his life. In May 1974, he died in London. His employer of close to a quarter century was too ill for him to tell. A few days later, Ellington passed away and both the bodies of Tyree Glenn and Ellington were buried in the same New York funeral home. from

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