When Duke Ellington's sidemen recorded on their own, the Duke's influence often had a way of asserting itself even if he was nowhere near the studio. This was true in the 1930s and 1940s, and it was true on some of Paul Gonsalves' recordings of the 1960s. Nonetheless, Gonsalves was his own man, and this excellent CD points to the fact that the breathy tenor saxophonist wasn't afraid to enter a variety of musical situations. This reissue combines two excellent 1963 dates -- Cleopatra -- Feelin' Jazzy and Tell It the Way It Is -- on a single CD. Tell It the Way It Is unites Gonsalves with the great Swedish trumpeter Rolf Ericson and pianist Walter Bishop, Jr. as well as such Ellington alumni as Johnny Hodges (alto sax) and Ray Nance (cornet, violin). The strong Ellington influence asserts itself on pieces that range from Hodges' "Rapscallion in Rab's Canyon" to "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and "Duke's Place." Meanwhile, Cleopatra -- Feelin' Jazzy is an interesting session that finds Gonsalves painting a musical picture of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Joined by guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Roy Haynes, Gonsalves salutes Cleopatra with music that is generally moody and evocative yet swinging. Cleopatra -- Feelin' Jazzy is an example of a jazz concept album that really works, and this CD is highly recommended to anyone who has appreciated Gonsalves' soulful tenor playing.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson