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Jay Thomas: 12th and Jackson Blues: Live at the Cotton Club

C. Michael Bailey By

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Blakey and Company. Multi-instrumentalist Jay Thomas was greatly influenced by the Hard Bop pioneered in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Foremost was the spell cast by Art Blakey and it is this influence that is most evident on 12th and Jackson Blues, where he plays like Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, and Wayne Shorter all rolled into one. A Hard Bop delight from start to finish.

A native of Seattle before it was know for grunge rock, Thomas, the son of a Trumpeter, was heavily exposed to jazz throughout his formative years. He did time in New York and the Bay Area in the ‘70s before returning to Seattle in 1980. He has recorded widely with the likes of Herb Ellis, Slim Gaillard, Jessica Williams, and Chuck Metcalf. He has been a member of the Mel Lewis, Clayton-Hamilton Maria Schneider, and Bill Holman Big Bands. 12th and Jackson Blues is Thomas’ sixth CD as a leader and his second release by McVouty Records.

12th and Jackson. On the current release, Thomas displays his considerable chops and composition skills. The Blakey element manifests in the title cut, a minor blues reminiscent of “Birk’s Works” and containing the same snare break Blakey played in “Moanin’”. Thomas shows up with his tenor and winds his way through the blues here and on “Midnight Stomp”. On the ballad “Monk’s Mood”, Thomas’ tenor is probing and insistent. His playing all instruments is accomplished and at a high level.

Jay Thomas is accompanied by a crack trio lead by pianist John Hansen, who’s tonal and genre plate is very broad indeed. Russ Botten turns in a rock steady beat propelled by John Wikan’s perfect time drumming. This is a disc that will appeal to all Hard Boppers and mainstream maniacs alike. Go for it.


Track Listing: 12th and Jackson Blues; Jitterbug Waltz; Ladybird; who do You Love, I Hope; Midnight Stomp; Is It True what They Say About Dixie?; Monk

Personnel: Jay Thomas: Trumpet, Saxophones; John Hansen, Piano; John Wikan: Drums; Russ Botten: Bass.

Title: 12th and Jackson Blues: Live at the Cotton Club | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: McVouty Records


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