In the history of jazz, few pianists have been as prolific as the recently deceased Hank Jones. His tasteful and subtle playing is documented on literally thousands of recordings. Many of them are today known as jazz classicsbenchmarks to the greatness of this musicand Jones' playing and support on all of them were crucial in creating those historic, beautiful and legendary legacies.
For whatever reason, many of Jones' recordings have long been either forgotten, out of print, or very hard to find. One such recording, a rare gem, is the Hank Jones and Tyree Glenn Quintet/Sextet's Complete Recordings. The two- disc setwhich features, among others, Jones, Tyree Glenn, Mary Osborne, Shorty Baker, Milt Hinton and Jo Jonesis a testament to groove, swing, melody, musicalityand doing all of it together, as a group.
Many of the set's thirty-five tracks barely pass the two-minute mark, often ending just after the melody is stated. While it surely would have been nice to hear these musicians play for a bit on these songs, the statement of only the melody is the ultimate statement. These guys don't need to solo to express who they are; it's possible to tell exactly who everybody is simply by listening to their version of, and their interaction with, the melody.
This recording is special for many reasons. It is a reminder of how exciting many simple ideas can be. For example, on "Mack The Knife," Jones is silent until the solos begin. The anticipation he creates when he not playing is quite possibly more exciting than anything that could have been played. His eventual entry, with a quick peck of the harmony, makes clear how fun this music can be, as does each accent on the bass drum, each song Glenn quotes, and each time the band re-enters after a break.
Jones was the perfect accompanist. While many horn players have, over the years, replaced piano with guitar (among other reasons, the guitar is a less harmonically imposing instrument) or removed harmony instruments altogether, Jones plays just enough to accent the rhythmmoving the song forward and, above all, letting the soloists move in any harmonic direction they choose without getting in the way.
Trombonist Glenn is reminiscent of Harry "Sweets" Edison. Each line really swings, possesses such direction, and is only made up of the necessary. The silence only adds to the swing; often Jo Jones' bass drum accents seem to finish Glenn's lines, adding to the humor of the music.
At a time when a disc of playing standards is often looked down upondismissed as a simple jam session, it is important to have recordings like this. These discs are a reminder of how hard it is to truly play tunes musically, to really swing continuously as a groupand of the subtlety and humor that makes up the jazz languagethis is music that deserves to be heard.
CD1: Sinbad The Sailor; What Can I Tell My Heart; Lonely Moment;
After The Rain; Tyree's Tune; Until The Real Thing Comes Along;
Without A Song; I Thought About You; How High The Moon; I Wanna Be
Loved; Too Marvelous For Words; Teach Me Tonight; Sunday; Just A
Wearyin' For You; There Will Never Be Another You; All Of Me; Royal
Garden Blues. CD2: Wonder Why; Dear Old Southland; Them There
Eyes; Sweet And Lovely; Marchetta; Limehouse Blues; By And By
When Morning Comes; On The Alamo; Lonesome Road; Stomping At
The Savoy; Some Other Spring; Waycross Walk; Mack The Knife; 'Til
There Was You; Avalon; Learn To Croon; Blue Lou; Indiana.
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