THE ELUSIVE PAUL GONSALVES (on eBay)

I no longer would speculate on the relationship between ignorance and bliss, but it fascinates me when sellers on eBay have only a tenuous relationship with the items they put up for sale.  Sometimes it works greatly to the advantage of the knowing buyer: years ago, I bid on and bought a photograph of Bobby Hackett, taken in the early Seventies at a local jazz festival — he was smiling while being embraced by a non-musician, male, wearing a velour top . . . and Hackett had autographed the photo in an unusually angular scrawl, suggesting that he was not seated or comfortable at the time.  But the seller didn’t recognize Hackett or his autograph, so the photo was undervalued — although not by me.

These photographs are intriguing studies of the tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, who spent much of his performance career in the Ellington sax section.  The earliest one is autographed, which gave the seller a clear clue:

I would guess that is a high school graduation photograph.

Because the seller didn’t know that Gonsalves also played guitar quite well (he even soloed on a 1961 Stanley Dance session) this photograph went unidentified.  But you’ll notice the saxophone on the floor near his right foot — a clue of sorts.

Looks like the same fellow to me, much more mature.

Could this also be our man?  I have my doubts, but Gonsalves was obviously light-complected (he had “Portuguese” in his background, even though his Ellington colleagues facetiously called him “Mex”) and holding your saxophone in a Lestorian way was probably very common in the Forties.  Fascinating and still elusive.

3 responses to “THE ELUSIVE PAUL GONSALVES (on eBay)

  1. The last photo probably is also of PG — check the suit pattern and cut of the corner, background of photo (mirror and frame), and physical details like the ear — these seem to match up with the photo above.

  2. I’m aligned with “Visitor.” If you need more proof, the sax in both photos appears to be a Conn, and both mouthpieces are Links. What’s more, the mouthpiece is also tilted at the same angle on the neck (notice how you can see the reed in the first photo). Definitely taken at the same time…

  3. Ive got a pic of Paul on a Conn early on….

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