This 1960 session led by trombonist Mitchell "Booty" Wood is a loose blowing session dominated by bluesy originals written by its participants, most of whom are veterans of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Wood was a fine section player and capable soloist whose work tended to be overshadowed, since there were so many prominent soloists already in the band by the time he came on board. Oddly enough, he doesn't care to feature himself extensively out front during this rather rare date as a leader; he seems just as happy sharing the spotlight with his bandmates. Because he was under an exclusive contract to Verve at the time, alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges is referred to under his previously used pseudonym Cue Porter (and oddly as Cue Hodges in the composer credits), though obviously not fooling anyone from the label who would have recognized his trademark sound in an instant; other Ellington bandmembers present include trumpeter Harold "Shorty" Baker, tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, and bassist Aaron Bell, with pianist Roger "Ram" Ramirez and drummer Oliver Jackson rounding out the rhythm section. All four of the originals from the first half of the session are enjoyable, especially the two collaborations by Baker and Hodges. The other half of the LP, recorded during the same studio session, adds Sir Charles Thompson on piano and trombonists Dickie Wells and Vic Dickenson in the place of Baker and Gonsalves. The almost funeral-like cadence of Englishman Kenny Graham's "Sunday" is highlighted by Hodges' soulful alto sax, backed by the mournful trio of trombones and chimes played by Thompson. Not exactly an essential studio date, but die-hard fans of dates led by Duke Ellington alumni will definitely enjoy this long out of print LP.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden