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The Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra: Consummation

Jack Bowers By

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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 of it is cherce.? Davis introduces the curtain?raiser, ?Dedication,? a lyrical convocation whose alluring melody, conveyed by Jones on flugel, is sandwiched around a lively midsection with potent solos by alto Jerome Richardson and trumpeter Snooky Young. ?It Only Happens Every Time,? a gently swaying bossa, contains brief solos by Hanna and trumpeter Marvin Stamm (muted) while the delightfully rhythmic ?Tiptoe,? showcasing Young?s trumpet and Jerry Dodgion?s alto, precedes one of Jones?s best?known melodies, ?A Child Is Born,? on which Hanna and Jones state the theme as Davis, Hanna and Lewis provide stalwart support and the ensemble appends a breathtaking coda. ?Us? is a gospel?flavored ensemble piece with awesome unison passages by brass and reeds leading to a brusque closing chord, ?Ahunk Ahunk? a groovy shuffle in 5/4 with Hanna on electric piano and three choruses each by Stamm and tenor Eddie Daniels. ?Fingers? is especially well?named, as its hurried tempo tests everyone?s digital proficiency (and none is found wanting). While trombonist Benny Powell, trumpeter Davey Moore (muted) and tenor Billy Harper are given ample room to stretch, there are three shorter statements by Hanna, a dazzling ensemble chorus by the reeds and muscular solos by Davis and Lewis that lead to an explosive shout chorus finale. French horns, tuba and piano establish the mood on the lovely ?Consummation,? with Jones again playing the melody on flugel and Hanna the featured soloist. A wonderful way to close a consistently impressive performance by the superb and greatly missed Jones / Lewis Orchestra.

Contact: Capitol Records, 1750 North Vine St., Los Angeles, CA 90028.


Track Listing: Dedication; It Only Happens Every Time; Tiptoe; A Child Is Born; Us; Ahunk Ahunk; Fingers; Consummation (46:32).

Personnel: Thad Jones, flugelhorn; Snooky Young, Danny Moore, Al Porcino, Marvin Stamm, trumpet; Eddie Bert, Benny Powell, Jimmy Knepper, trombone; Cliff Heather, bass trombone; Jerome Richardson, soprano, alto sax, flute; Jerry Dodgion, alto sax, clarinet, flute; Billy Harper, tenor sax, flute; Eddie Daniels, tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Richie Kamuca (1?3, 8), baritone sax, clarinet; Pepper Adams (4?6), Joe Farrell (7), baritone sax); Roland Hanna, acoustic, electric piano; Richard Davis, acoustic, electric bass; Mel Lewis, drums. Tracks 1, 8, add Jimmy Buffington, Earl Chapin, Dick Berg, Julius Watkins, French horn; Howard Johnson, tuba. Tracks 5, 6, add David Spinozza, guitar.

Title: Consummation | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


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