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Off the A-Train: Paul Gonsalves 1957-1963


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If it were a film, it might be called “Six Minutes Over Newport"--the story of Duke Ellington tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves' solo bombing run that dropped 27 choruses on a disbelieving and increasingly rapturous audience at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. Ellington would often say afterwards that he had been “born again" that night, and Gonsalves' extended musical moment enshrined him in the annals of jazz history--so much so that the fine small-group recordings he made away from the Ellington orchestra in the late 1950s and early 1960s have fallen by the critical wayside. Joined by top-drawer musicians such as Wynton Kelly, Sonny Stitt, and Kenny Burrell, Gonsalves demonstrated his ability to flourish in a hard bop setting, and he also got numerous opportunities to showcase his way with a ballad. Consider this chapter in the Paul Gonsalves story “The Other Side of Newport," or “Off the A-Train."

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