With a multi-horn specialist like Jay Thomas, you get a lot more bang for your buck, since his main axe is the trumpet/flugelhorn (a la Ira Sullivan, Australia's James Morrison and Benny Carter). Thomas is a Seattle-based musician who has appeared on sixty recorded sessions. This, his eighth album as a leader, was recorded at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle exactly one year ago. With over four decades in the business, Thomas started with Machito's Band in the '60s and most recently was with Bud Shank's Group (featuring Conte Candoli's final session). Thomas was also awarded Earshot Magazine's Musician of the Year in 1996 and 1998.
These nine tracks move along quite nicely with respect to variety, set list and musicianship. Thomas divides his time equally between trumpet/flugelhorn and tenor sax. The two Thomas originals are medium groove compositions. On the title tune, a tenor sax blues, and on "Why Don't You?" on trumpet, Thomas sets a comfortable pace with attractive melody and solo work. Referring to Art Farmer's Interaction album in the mid '60s, Thomas plays pretty on Sergio Milhanovich's "Sometime Ago." Two lesser known Ellngton compositions are included: "Low Key Lightly," from the film Anatomy of A Murder, is performed as a tender ballad on tenor sax; while "I'm Afraid" is done in a boppish mode on trumpet. Jerry Bergonzi's "On the Brink" is rendered at an up-tempo pace and Duke Pearson's beautiful ballad "You Know I Care" gives the leader an excellent opportunity on tenor sax. There's one standard, "Alone Together," taken up-tempo and the session concludes with Lucky Thompson's "A Lady's Vanity" from his '60s Tricotism session. There is still a last minute secret - the standard "Secret Love," a hidden track – offered up as a flag-waver encore.
I really like the total package of Blues for JW. Everything played is, at the very least, good, with quite a bit of the music being exemplary. The trio of Bob Nixon, Chuck Kistler and Matt Jorgensen delivers solid support and solo work, and the live ambiance at Tula's fueled the musicians' creativity.
Track Listing: Blues for JW, Sometime Ago, Low Key Lightly, Why Don't You, On the Brink, You Know I Care, I'm Afraid, Alone Together, A Lady's Vanity
Personnel: Jay Thomas, trumpet,flugelhorn, tenor sax; Bob Nixon,piano; Chuck Kistler,bass; Matt Jorgensen,drums.