The term "all-star is used often these days to describe many groups, some of which even deserve the label. One More (which could be the name of this eight-member co-op or the album itself; your guess is as good as mine) doesn't call itself an all-star ensemble, but it could. Hank Jones, James Moody, Frank Wess, Bob Brookmeyer, Benny Golson, Jimmy Owens, Richard Davis and Mickey Rokerif these guys aren't all-stars, who is?
It's a great pleasure to hear jazz musicians who are not only enormously talented but clearly unique, who don't flaunt their technical prowess but choose instead to make every note count. Listening to these gentlemen solo and interact is much like attending a master class on how to do things right. And what could possibly be better than hearing a group of all-stars perform? Hearing them play the music of the great Thad Jones, of course. Few composers have contributed more to the literature of modern jazz than Jones, and the group surveys eleven of his impressive originals, neatly arranged by Michael Patterson, an Emmy Award-winning television writer who leads his own quintet and big band and is a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music.
Thelonious Monk was a great admirer of Thad's, having once described him as "Bartok with valves [and] a pencil guided by God. And so the album closes with brother Hank's beautiful solo rendition of "Monk's Mood, one of Thad's favorite songs, which Hank learned, note-for-note, from Monk himself in the late '40s. Another piano soliloquy worth mentioning is Sir Roland Hanna's prerecorded five-minute prologue to what is perhaps Thad's best-known and most-often-played melody, "A Child Is Born. The passage was taken from Hanna's Tributaries: Reflections on Tommy Flanagan (IPO, 2003).
Four members of the ensembleOwens, Brookmeyer, Davis and brother Hankwere charter members of the groundbreaking Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra). Hanna succeeded Jones as the orchestra's pianist, Wess recorded with Thad in 1957 and again in 1960, and the othersMoody, Golson, Rokerare no strangers to Thad's music, having performed it on many occasions.
If there were a speed limit for musicians, the ebullient Moody would have been pulled over and booked long ago, having now passed eighty with no sign of slowing down, as he proves on "One More, "Mean What You Say and "The Waltz You Swang for Me, the first two on tenor, the third on soprano. In fact, the group's combined longevity spans more than six centuries, with Hank Jones a spry 85, Wess 83, Golson 76, Brookmeyer and Davis each 75, Roker 72 and Owens the youngster at 61 (I hope they don't mind my mentioning that; I do so only to make a point, which is that there's a lot to be said for the wisdom that comes only with maturity).
These are eight masters (nine, counting Hanna) paying tribute to one of their own, a virtuosic composer/arranger whose music will be listened to and appreciated for generations to come. Several are already in various Halls of Fame, and the others soon will be. Here's a rare chance to hear them together, blowing up a storm to honor a dearly departed friend and colleague.
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
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