Originally recorded on March 13, 1956 at Audio-Video Studios, New York City.
All transfers from analog to digital made at 24-bit resolution.
Originally issued in 1956 as Blue Note BLP 1513.
For his first session as a leader for Blue Note, trumpeter Thad Jones ran through five songs with a small group which also included fellow Detroiters pianist Tommy Flanagan and guitarist Kenny Burrell as well as part-time Detroiter tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell. Jones' time with Debut certainly broke him in, and he is thoroughly professional on this record. Compared to its predecessor, The Fabulous Thad Jones, and its successor, The Magnificent Thad Jones, Detroit-New York Junction pales slightly, but it's nevertheless an excellent set of driving hard bop.
All Music Guide
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Thad Jones - Detroit-New York Junction
Ever since it lost its amateur standing as a rural folk music and began to earn attention as an esthetic American art Form in the view of the literati, jazz has been undergoing a process that might best be described as "citification."
Because of the emergence of several of the early jazzmen from its nether regions, the first community thus to be citified in jazz was New Orleans, even though simultaneously with the alleged birth of jazz in that town there was no shortage of similar music in Memphis, TN, or Sedalia, MO, or even New Brunswick, NJ. After that we had Chicago jazz, later Kansas City jazz, and more recently Los Angeles has produced something often described as West Coast jazz.
The citification of music may have no exact musical basis in some of these instances; in any case, rapid communications via radio, records, and traveling musicians made every style the property of jazz as a whole almost as soon as it had developed. A major factor that has tended to citify jazz is the concentration of almost all the important technical facilities in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. It is not until a musician or group migrates to one of these three that he has much of a chance for international recognition nowadays.
Thus, the title Detroit-New York Junction signifies a happy marriage between the rapidly growing musical produce of the Motor City and the magnetic tape of the Big Apple.
Thaddeus Joseph Jones is the latest and greatest talent to emerge from America's automotive areas. Born March 28, 1923 in Pontiac, Ml, he is almost five years younger than his brother Hank, the distinguished pianist heard lately with Benny Goodman. A third brother, Elvin, is beginning to make a name for himself as a drummer.
The three Jones boys had their own combo for a while in the late-1930s around Detroit and neighboring towns. Thad worked in Saginaw with a Bostonian who had wandered westward, saxophonist Sonny Stitt. After some more local work in Michigan and a couple of years of army service from 1943-46, he had his own band for a while in Oklahoma City. Back in Detroit, he spent two years in a combo led by Billy Mitchell, the tenor sax man heard as Thad's own sideman on this LP. (Billy, at this writing, is bringing the doctrines of modern jazz to audiences in Pakistan and points East as a member of the State Department-blessed Dizzy Gillespie band.)
Thad joined the Count Basie orchestra in May 1954. It was not long before musicians, then critics, then fans began to acclaim him. He should have won the Down Beat Critics' Poll in 1955 as new trumpet star of the year, but missed it by a hair (half a vote, to be precise).
Actually Thad, in more than two years with Basie, has had less of a chance than one might expect to display his talent fully. For one thing, he has to share the solo chores with another great trumpeter, Joe Newman; for another, his harmonic conception on solos may be a little in advance of those of the accompanying rhythm section or ensemble. At all events, for those whose picture of Thad is conceived in the memory of that everlasting "Pop Goes the Weasel" quote on "April in Paris," his first Blue Note LP may come as an ear-opener.
The combo with him is just small enough to set him off perfectly, just large enough never to leave a bare setting. Kenny Burrell, the guitarist, and Tommy Flanagan, the pianist, are both fellow Detroiters who have lately made their mark on the New York scene. Oscar Pettiford is too well known to need any formal presentation, while Shadow Wilson, among other credits, played drums with Hampton, Hines, and Herman, as well as with Basie, Jacquet, and Garner.
"Blue Room" is treated in a buoyant, blithe fashion at an easy tempo, with the full-bodied Mitchell tenor, the loose, easy Burrell guitar, and Pettiford's incredibly agile bass all featured before Thad moves in cautiously, gracefully, like a panther about to pounce. There is a similar elegance to the grace notes of "Torriff" as they trip gently over the tenor's second line in the ingenious ensemble. And on "Little Girl Blue," played simply by trumpet, guitar, and bass, you may perhaps find the most distinctive moments of the entire set. The verse is played as a waltz; Oscar uses his bow; Kenny uses chords; Thad uses every weapon at his disposal, and with the dexterity of a master. This is ballad jazz of a high order.
If is on the lengthy "Scratch," though, that you may find your dearest and fullest view of the magnificence of Thad Jones's talent. The long-note phrases, in which contrasting accents compensate for the scarcity of notes, are followed by peppery passages alive with sixteenth notes. Thad's symmetry of construction is one of his most telling virtues: hitting on a fanciful idea, he may decide to repeat it with the accents or the harmonic placement changed for the sake of variety. In other words, when he builds a solo he constructs a continuous melody, which is the end to which every improvised jazz solo should aspire, and one that few can attain.
"Zec" is another original, kicked off much faster than "Scratch" and played in trumpet-tenor unison, a boppish melody that sails right into Thad's first solo. Flanagan's single-note lines on his swinging solo earmark him as one of the year's brightest new piano discoveries.
In view of Alfred Lion's past record for nurturing new jazz talent, I'm not at all surprised that it was he who engineered this felicitous Detroit-New York junction.
- Leonard Feather