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MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Thad Jones: Detroit-New York Junction – Blue Note 1513

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Before he became famous as the leader of a big band, Thad Jones was a trumpet player, and a damn good one. In 1956, Jones led his first jazz group. It was a small sextet--unlike his later, more celebrated ensemble, co-led by Mel Lewis. This short album, which chronicles that session, has only five songs and runs just 34 minutes. There are no alternate takes. It's a pleasant album, but not a great one. There is nothing innovative here, or particularly memorable. Jones has a nice tone and decent chops, but he won't make you forget ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thad Jones: The Danish Radio Big Band & Eclipse

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US trumpeter, composer and arranger Thad Jones remains by and large unknown in his homeland but has had a street named after him in Copenhagen. Jones became a household name in the Danish capital as leader of the Danish Radio Big Band from 1976-85. Brother of pianist Hank and drummer Elvin, Thad Jones sought refuge in Denmark after the break-up of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra for whom he penned the monumental Suite for Pops (A&M Horizon), a tribute to Louis Armstrong. Jones was always a cut above the average. In 1961, as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thad Jones: The Magnificent Thad Jones

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Trumpeter Thad Jones' greatest notoriety was as a member and leader of large ensembles, including the Count Basie Orchestra and later the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. But as great as his big band work was, it's a shame he didn't dedicate more time to small combos. He recorded a handful of really first-rate dates for Blue Note in the mid-1950s--chief among them, perhaps, 1956's The Magnificent Thad Jones. It's timeless music that reveals a musician with great chops, fine composing and arranging skills, and a serious understanding of the blues. “April In Paris" sets the mood for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thad Jones-Mel Lewis: Consummation

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When it came to progressive big bands during the ‘60s, few ensembles could boast the kind of staying power and muscle of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. With some of the biggest names in the business as part of the ensemble’s regular roster and the uniformly exceptional output of writer Thad Jones, this band was successful at a time when economics were making it hard for even established organizations to stay afloat. Unfortunately, the great legacy of the Thad and Mel band was documented on the Solid State label and aside from a Mosaic boxed set compiling that material ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra: Consummation

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This charming reissue from 1970 makes it even harder to accept the fact that Thad and Mel are no longer with us. Thank goodness we have such glorious music to remember them by. All of the compositions and arrangements are Thad?s, and each one is an unpretentious classic of its kind. The orchestra itself is beyond reproach, with sharp and explosive brass and reeds complementing its unrivaled rhythm section (Lewis, pianist Roland Hanna, bassist Richard Davis). There?s less than forty?seven minutes of music, but as Spencer Tracy said of Katharine Hepburn?s physique in the film Woman of the Year, ?all ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Hutcherson, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis: Dialogue, Consummation

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Recorded five years apart, these two Blue Note reissues highlight jazz creativity of very different kinds. Bobby Hutcherson’s Dialogue is a shining example of what can be called the Andrew Hill aesthetic. Thad Jones & Mel Lewis’s Consummation features the highly original big-band craftsmanship of the late Thad Jones. Interestingly, Richard Davis is the bassist on both records, serving as a link between the two worlds. Dialogue, first issued in 1965, was Hutcherson’s debut as a leader, and it reflects lessons learned on adventurous recording dates like Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure and Eric Dolphy’s Out to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra: Basle, 1969

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It has been 30 years to the month since this concert appearance by the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra was recorded in Basle, Switzerland, and I’d guess that some of those who were lucky enough to be in the audience still remember the occasion fondly. Although the (unedited) sound on the CD is uneven at times, with some soloists playing off–mic or even bumping into it from time to time, the concert–goers assuredly got their money’s worth from this rip–roaring, rock ’em–sock ’em, no–holds–barred but always tasteful all–star ensemble led by the peerless composer/arranger/trumpeter Jones and the indefatigable drummer Lewis. One ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thad Jones, Frank Wess, Teddy Charles: Olio

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The title is not misspelled, and the Sonny Rollins tune is not played here. (Ira Gitler made this point in the original liner notes; it’s a point still worth making.) “Olio” is an old vaudeville term meaning “medley” or “variety”, and that’s what you get in this Prestige jam session from 1957. While some do not like the looseness of jams, this one benefits from two great organizers: Mal Waldron, who could be counted on to bring ambitious tunes to his session, and Teddy Charles, producer of Prestige’s most “advanced” ‘Fifties dates. It’s Teddy’s production, and he also brings his ...



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