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Thad Jones and Mel Lewis: All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings at the Village Vanguard

C. Michael Bailey By

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Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance Records, 2014), Getz/Gilberto '76 (Resonance Records, 2016), Moments in Time (Resonance Records, 2016)...and these are just the most recent (not to forget several Wes Montgomery) releases. Resonance Records steps up (again) and releases what can only be considered the apotheosis of live jazz performance, All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings at the Village Vanguard.

Before even considering the music, there is the captured ambiance. Recorded by a then 19-year old amateur engineer, George Klaban, the period technology may be lacking by today's standards. Maybe even Klaban's amateur status could call things into question. However, the results provide the listener with a very intimate listening experience that only lacks the smell of just-lit Lucky Strikes and Cutty Sark on the rocks. Klaban's gig pack included a Crown Professional two- Track stereo tape recorder, an Ampex four-input mixer and six mics (Neumann U67, Bayer and AKG professional mics and an Electro Voice 654 Dynamic, the last used for the bass). Klaban details that he placed one mic each for the reeds, trombones, and trumpets, the fourth for the bass, the fifth for the piano and the last for the leader, Thad Jones.

The result of this alchemic paradigm is a presence, not in the audience, but up over the middle of the band looking (hearing) down (a physical impossibility given the compressed confines of the Village Vanguard). Nonetheless, the sound and atmosphere is electrically charged and immediate. The sound is spacious enough to get up and walk around in, passing through all of the sections. It is musical arrangement as subatomic metaphor...each musical element interacting with and against one another to produce a compounded product of rare substance and beauty. It is immediately evident that there is something special taking place.

Queue up the first performance of the Thad Jones composition and arrangement "Back Bone" and listen. Alto saxophonist Jerry Dodgion spits out an unaccompanied blues chorus of spurred on with shouts and encouragement from the band with Thad Jones himself anticipating the entry of the whole band with a grand, "Yeah!" This is unbridled joy in music making. Evidence of Bill Basie is all over the charts, in both the riffing and solos. Altoist Jerome Richardson introduces "Little Dipper" twice and pianist (and Thad Jones' brother) Hank Jones channel the spirit of the still living Count Basie. This is, simply, what live music is all about: invention, spontaneity, improvisation, and spring freshness. Hear from where all big band since has come.

Track Listing: CD1: Back Bone; All My Yesterdays; Big Dipper; Mornin’ Reverend; The Little Pixie; Big Dipper (alternate take). CD2: Low Down; Lover Man; Ah, That’s Freedom; don’t Ever Leave Me; Willow Weep For Me; Mean What You Say; Once Around; Polka dots and Moonbeams; Mornin’ Reverend; All My Yesterdays; Back Bone.

Personnel: CD1: Back Bone; All My Yesterdays; Big Dipper; Mornin’ Reverend; The Little Pixie; Big Dipper (alternate take). CD2: Low Down; Lover Man; Ah, That’s Freedom; don’t Ever Leave Me; Willow Weep For Me; Mean What You Say; Once Around; Polka dots and Moonbeams; Mornin’ Reverend; All My Yesterdays; Back Bone.

Title: All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings at the Village Vanguard | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Resonance Records

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