The “Vanguard Jazz Orchestra” performs eight compositions by the late trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader Thad Jones on Thad Jones Legacy. With this recording the “VJO” utilize Jones’ original arrangements while the opener “A-That’s Freedom” composed by Thad’s equally heralded brother, pianist Hank Jones is befitting of the Basie school. Here, pianist Jim McNeely commences with the customary piano intro followed by a Kansas City style big band arrangement featuring multi-layered horn charts and melodious choruses as the band exhibits quite a bit of depth and resplendence. The “VJO” swing skyward on “Once Around” as they pursue complex and demanding charts along with an abundance of sharp soloing. The overall symmetry and bright arrangement witnessed on “Groove Merchant” is intermingled with a straight four swing groove that should get almost anyone’s dander on the upstart as the razor sharp unison lines summon a most contemporary vibe! “My Centennial” is bold and brassy and slightly in-your-face thanks to ferocious activity by the horn section and Gary Smulyan’s rapid-fire baritone sax solo followed by John Riley’s sweeping and thoroughly energized drum solo.
Thad Jones Legacy is a must have, for the advocates of the great Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band who performed at Max Gordon’s “Village Vanguard” for many years. Thankfully the spirit continues to thrive and evolve as these exceptional musicians craftily extend this noteworthy legacy! * * * *
Trumpets: Earl Gardner, Joe Mosello, Glenn Drewes & Scott Wendholt: Trombones: John Mosca, Ed Neumeister, Jason Jackson & Douglas Purviance: Reeds: Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes, Rich Perry, Ralph LaLama & Gary Smulyan: Piano: Jim McNeely: Drums: John Riley: Bass: Dennis Irwin.