Paul Gonsalves

Cleopatra - Feelin' Jazzy

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Taking off from director Joseph Mankiewicz' messy celluloid interpretation of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (DeMille took the first and best stab at it in 1934), tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves casts the Egyptian queen's life in a jazz set of originals and Alex North movie themes. One of just two dates Gonsalves did for Impulse and part of an all-too-thin solo catalog, Cleopatra -- Feelin' Jazzy finds the famed Ellington soloist in the prime company of hard boppers like pianist Hank Jones, organist Dick Hyman, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Roy Haynes. The band shines throughout, with Hyman's organ adding exotic film theater ambience on the two North cuts that kick off the album. Switching over to more straightforward fare, Gonsalves and company stretch out on Burrell's "Bluz for Liz" (read Elizabeth Taylor, one of the leads in the movie) and Ellington's "Action in Alexandria." The album's conceptual framework is maintained on standouts like "Cleo's Asp," Burrell's second piece here, and the Manny Albam blues ballad "Cleopatra's Lament." Gonsalves impresses with both complexly swinging solos and breathy ballad statements. A very fine effort by one of the unsung giants of jazz.

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