9/19/06

Paul Gonsalves out cold w/Duke Ellington

Paul Gonsalves was born in 1920. His first major job, was with Count Basie, whom he joined in 1946 after being released from military service. Gonsalves joined Duke Ellington in 1950 and stayed with him almost continuously for twenty-four years. Gonsalves replaced Ben Webster, and Ellington was initially attracted to his style because of its Webster-like influences. Over the years, however, Gonsalves style became more harmonically experimental. He flirted with atonality long before John Coltrane or Eric Dolphy. In fact, his combination of cool atonality with hot rhythms made him one of the most original of all tenor sax men. Gonsalves' virtuoso performance on "Dimenuendo and Crescendo in Blue" at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival was largely responsible for a revival of interest in the career and work of Duke Ellington. This funny but extremely tragic video is of Gonsalves nodded out cold through an entire tune. He is woken up at the last second of the video. Paul eventually overdosed in a bathtub four days before Ellington died. Watch this before you start experimenting with dope kids!

Perdido on dope

2 comments:

chicken little said...

There are two things I would say about that video. First, Paul Gonsalves swings harder on the nod that most kids in college today will ever hope to swing. Two, that sax section still sounded incredible WITHOUT the lead tenor player. What does that say about the Ellington band? They were superbadass!

Richard Fenno said...

A friend of mine, Art Baron, played with Ellington in the early seventies. He introduced me to Harold Ashby, who was the THIRD tenor player in the section! Sensing my puzzlement, Art told me that Ashby was there so somebody would get up to the mic when Gonsalves couldn't. Speaks volumes about Ellington the man.