Paul Gonsalves was considered some kind of new genius of the tenor saxophone after he blew an astounding 27 choruses with Duke Ellington's Orchestra on the Duke's "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. As part of RCA's reissue series to celebrate Ellington's 100th birthday, Ellingtonia Moods & Blues brings back a 1960 date featuring Gonsalves and other Ellington soloists. Although nominally credited to Gonsalves, this, in fact, is a co-chaired date with Johnny Hodges. Hodges shares the composing, arranging and -- as always -- swinging soloing. Add the fine trumpet work of Ray Nance and the swinging trombone work of Booty Wood -- both contributing just the right blend to offset the two saxophonists -- and this makes for one potent date. The rhythm section is solid and supportive, with great playing from Jimmy Jones on piano, Al Hall on bass, and Oliver Jackson on drums. Gonsalves plays his usual breathy tenor, full of warmth and depth, caressing his notes in much the same time-honored manner as Hodges, making their solos on the Duke's "Daydream" a study in both similarities and contrasts. The set also features three seldom-heard Gonsalves tunes ("Chocataw" and "The Line-Up") and a Hodges tune ("D.A. Blues"), along with songs that Hodges co-wrote for the Ellington band, like "I'm Beginning to See the Light." This is jazz from the days when albums were recorded in one day, and that was a good thing.
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AllMusic Review by Cub Koda