Great jazz things have been happening at IPO Recordings, and they have been for a while. One More: Music of Thad Jones is the sixth CD from Executive Producer Bill Sorin, and it continues the generous spirit of tribute that has informed each of its predecessors.
Three of the six recordings so far have been among the final recordings of the late piano maestro, Sir Roland Hanna, with another Hanna album on the way later this year. Listeners familiar with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band should know that Hanna held the piano chair in the band from its beginning in '66 through '74, and that he often performed Thad's compositions on his own recordings. Hanna is present posthumously on One More, in a recreation of one his classic unaccompanied introductions to "A Child Is Born, arguably Jones' most famous composition.
One More indeed pays homage to Jones the composer with stellar performances of 11 of his tunes. The aggregation that performs Michael Patterson's distinctive arrangements is an octet made up of a Who's Who of straight-ahead blowing jazz. James Moody, Benny Golson and Frank Wess appear on tenor and other saxophones, with Wess tripling on flute; Bob Brookmeyer on trombone and Jimmy Owens on trumpet and fluegelhorn comprise the brass section. The superb rhythm section is anchored by Richard Davis on bass and Mickey Roker on drums. One might wonder if Hanna were still alive, he would be on piano. But here we have the redoubtable Hank Jones, Thad's brother, on piano. It is hard to ask for more.
Ira Gitler points out in his liner notes, "What Patterson has done is write for this ensemble (and what an ensemble) without losing the spirit of the big band. That's the way Thad wrote, very translatable. With musicians who have no doubt known one another and played together often over many years, there is the feeling here of a reunion, a celebration not only of Thad Jones' talents as a composer but perhaps of the rare chance to play together again. For a one-time project, the group is surprisingly tight and polished; everyone really seems to have come to play his best, together.
Without slighting any of the other masters, one can't miss the contributions of Hank Jones on piano and Jimmy Owens on trumpet, which are consistently brilliant on this album, on virtually every cut. What an honor for jazz lovers to still have Hank in our midst; here and on his new Great Jazz Trio recordings of late he sounds better than ever. Perhaps Owens' highlight is his solo on "Consummation. Poetic justice: Thad Jones wrote the song for a concert performance by Owens in '69.
One More concludes on a rather special note. The final track is an unaccompanied solo performance by Hank Jones of "Monk's Mood, the only tune on the album not by Thad. He is playing an arrangement that he learned, note-for-note, directly from the composer himself, Thelonious Monk, in the mid-'40s, which was a favorite of Thad's.
IPO seems headed in a good direction. One More: Music of Thad Jones follows With Malice Toward None: The Music of Tom McIntosh, another great composer, which features some of the same musicians. Who knows? Maybe someday we will see a tribute to the compositional talents of Sir Roland Hanna, another match surely to be made in heaven.
Personnel: Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); James Moody (tenor and soprano saxophone); Frank Wess (tenor and alto saxophone, flute); Jimmy Owens (trumpet and fluegelhorn); Bob Brookmeyer (trombone); Hank Jones (piano); Richard Davis (bass); Mickey Roker (drums)
Track Listing: Subtle Rebuttal; Thad's Pad; Kids Are Pretty People; One More; Mean What You Say; A Child Is Born; Bossa Nova Ova; The Waltz You Swang For Me; H&T Blues; Consummation; The Farewell; Monk's Mood
Kids Are Pretty People
Mean What You Say
A Child Is Born
Bossa Nova Ova
The Waltz You Swang For Me
Benny Golson, tenor saxophone
James Moody, tenor and soprano saxophone
Frank Wess, tenor and alto saxophone, flute
Jimmy Owens, trumpet and fluegelhorn
Bob Brookmeyer, trombone
Hank Jones, piano
Richard Davis, bass
Mickey Roker, drums