Often, when one thinks of Duke Ellington, songs like “Take the A Train” and “Satin Doll” come to mind. However, the American Jazz Institute decided to focus on Ellington recordings that were composed by members of his saxophone section. Ellington Saxophone Encounters (Capri Records, 2012) features the Mark Masters Ensemble with baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan.

“Esquire Swank” opens the set. Smulyan leads, with much of the background provided by other saxophones. Composed by Johnny Hodges and Ellington, this swinging piece is a cool, finger-snapping tune. The recording also visits such titles as “LB Blues,” “Used to Be Duke” and “Jeep’s Blues.”

One unique aspect of this recording is there are no other horns. For this type of music, a band usually consists of trumpets and trombones, as well as the saxophones.

The liner notes give plenty of detail about the history of these songs with Ellington’s band, including comments about the performances on this recording. However, one glaring shortcoming is the absence of a personnel listing. Apart from a photograph of drummer Joe La Barbera and some isolated references to the soloists, there is nothing to tell the listener who is doing what. Bill Cunliffe is the pianist, and Tom Warrington plays bass. By deduction, the other named musicians are saxophonists: Gary Foster, Don Shelton, Pete Christlieb and Gene Cipriano.

Smulyan, the front man for all intents and purposes, is 2011 winner of the DownBeat Critics Poll and Jazz Times Readers and Critics polls for baritone saxophone. He has performed with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, Joe Lovano’s Nonet, the Dave Holland Octet as well as the Big Band, and Dizzy Gillespie’s All-Star Big Band. Past associations include Freddie Hubbard, Gillespie, Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Tito Puente, B.B. King, Ray Charles and Diana Ross.