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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.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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