Recorded February 29, 1960 in New York City
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Johnny Hodges as a soloist, composer and arranger is so great a personality that his presence alone gives this session an Ellingtonian atmosphere which has been unique in the jazz world for the past 40 years.
Themes such as Way, Way Back and It's Something that You Ought to Know carry his personal imprint while still keeping the delicate bouquet of Duke Ellingron's music.
Johnny Hodges was born on July 25, 1906, and died on May 11, 1970. Almost the whole of his musical career was bound up with that of Duke Ellington.
The music of this giant of jazz unfolds itself so naturally that the listener is straight away carried to the highest pinnacles of musical joy, and by the most direct and simplest means. Each of his solos is a lesson in relaxation and release of tension. As for his sound quality, there is only word to describe it: it is Unique.
On this point, what is more cool, melodious and moving than his statement of D.A. Blues, which is a typical "Hodges" blues. It is indeed the genius of Johnny Hodges that creates for us a musical universe of such rare beauty with such pure phrases that were they to be played by others they would be devoid of all grace and emotion.
Paul Gonsalves, after having played from 1946 to 1950 with Count Basic, joined the ranks of Duke Ellington's orchestra, and it was there that he acquired great fame due to his beautiful sound and his astonishing improvisations. In his solos he uses a very joyful, inter-woven style which is intriguing and which at times pits against each other robust yet pure phrases, based on some madly swinging riffs.
In this session we have a Paul Gonsalves who is relaxed, and who plays his tenor sax magnificently, as much at ease with a slow blues as with a fast tempo, as in Daydream, to which he entirely devotes himself and which he rhapsodizes in the Coleman Hawkins-Ben Webster style. His wonderful sound comes over to us perfectly.
As for the other soloists, although their parts are less important in this session, their support is nevertheless precious, as they fulfill in a very happy way the work of the two main players.
The trombone work of "Booty" Wood will be a revelation for some, whether it be by his robust "open" solo in Chocataw or by his solos in Way, Way Back and D.A. Blues, where he gives proof of his great mastery of the wa-wa mute.
The rhythm section is well worthy of the soloists, with the notable Al Hall, who is a master on double-bass, bringing both a supple touch and a real swing to each title.
-Jacques Morgantini (Notes from the original 1971 RCA France LP)