Two separate sessions, from July 1956 and February 1957 make up this 12" release, recorded by RVG at his Hackensack studio. Trumpeter Jones decided to utilize two distinct groups of supporting players and the results are interesting contrasts in structure. Rounding out the quartet date with just a rhythm section of Barry Harris's piano, Percy Heath on bass and drummer Max Roach, Thad's trumpet is the main focal point. On the quintet date, Jones adds Benny Powell's trombone and Gigi Gryce on alto sax for the front line, with Tommy Flanagan at the piano, George Duvivier on bass and his brother Elvin banging the skins. Sharp, tight playing from both groups, especially on "I've Got A Crush On You" and "I'll Wind" highlight this collection. Mastered and cut on an all tube pure mono cutting system by Bernie Grundman. Pressed on Classic's proprietary 200g super vinyl profile for the best and most authentic sound possible.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Not so long ago, in the comparatively recent bad old days, it took many years for a new and enterprising jazz musician to break into the public print. The opportunities for discussing him in black and white were almost as infrequent as the occasions for committing him to records. Nowadays, the situation seems virtually to be reversed, for no sooner does one of these future stars loom on the horizon than he is the subject of discussion in magazines from continent to continent, and in liner notes from record album to record album. Such, fortunately, has been the case with Thad Jones. Almost completely unknown when he joined the Basie band in May, 1954, he can now boast a scrap-book of hundreds of adulatory analyses.
All of which means that by now the chances are that you know all the essential biographical details concerning Thad. If you didn't hear an exciting LP he made entitled Detroit-New York Junction on Blue Note 1513, you must certainly have caught The Magnificent Thad Jones on BLP 1527, and in either event, you would be better off if you had both.
The men who surround Thad on this new collection are also familiar to those whose musical microscopes follow the trails of modern jazz.
Alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce, a Lionel Hampton alumnus who studied in Paris under a Fullbright scholarship, distinguished himself in what has now become the Clifford Brown Memorial Album on BLP 1526. Benny Powell, an associate of Thad's in the Basie brass section, won a recent Down Beat Critics' Poll as the best new star on trombone. Pianist Tommy Flanagan is the Detroiter featured in the above-mentioned Junction LP; the magnificent George Duvivier's bass sound has graced Bud Powell's finest performances on Blue Note. Thus, the only comparative newcomer on these sides is Thad's brother, Elvin, who, following in the footsteps of Thad himself and Benny Powell, seems a good bet for the new star drum chair in the next critics' poll.
Elvin Jones was born September 9, 1927 in Pontiac, Michigan, four years after Thad and nine years after their brother, pianist Hank Jones. Self-taught, he played in Army bands from 1946-9, then spent three years at the Blue Bird in Detroit with Thad and Billy Mitchell, the tenor player heard on both Thad's previous Blue Note LPs. He moved to New York a year or so ago, worked with Bud Powell, then joined the Jay Jay Johnson quintet. Elvin names Max Roach, Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Philly Joe Jones and Roy Haynes as his favorites; his remarkable work in this album shows how diligently he has drawn from these various sources.
Slipped Again, for example, features Elvin off and on throughout. His breaks leaa into successive solo stretches by Thad, Gigi and Benny, later he has a couple of fours with Duvivier and then with each of the horns.
Ill Wind, after an introduction in which the melody is backed by bowed bass, goes into rhythm with spare but ingenious use of the horns, and a gentle changing or rephrasing of the tune's charming bridge. Notice how subtly Elvin edges into double time with his brushes on the second chorus. Thad, having played a full chorus of near-melody and a second chorus of astonishingly fluid improvisation, cedes the mike to Flanagan for sixteen bars, then resumes for the last sixteen bars and for the fading series of tags that bring this track to a quiet conclusion.
Thadrack, a fastish minor theme, is mainly a solo workout for all, in the following sequence: Thad, Gigi, Benny, Tommy, Thad, Duvivier, and a return to the theme. Notice particularly the melodic and fast-fingered work of Duvivier on his chorus here.
let's, another minor theme, shows one of the pleasant idio-syncracies of Thad's writing-his tendency to introduce sudden breaks in the rhythm before tearing off into wild four-four ad libbing. The odd series of open spots by the horns, with the rhythm section in a state of suspension, ends up in a series of unison tonics and dominants underscored by Elvin on each beat; then, before you know it, Thad is off and leading the field at a fast canter for a couple of choruses. Gigi has three choruses that rank among his best recorded work, more like Gigi Gryce and less a shadow of Charlie Parker as are so many modern altos. Benny Powell, too, is fleetly inventive on his two choruses (despite his exceptional technique, he is not unaware of the value of simplicity, employing rhythmic variations on a single note for eight entire measures during the second chorus).
Tommy Flanagan's three choruses include some interesting passages in which the bass is suspended for four measures at a time for contrast. Then it's Elvin and George walking, Elvin walking on his own for one, and three choruses by Thad with some really wild bass and drums. A four-bar drum break leads into the last ensemble, which has the same interestingly chopped-up ensemble effects as the opening. For a performance that runs almost nine minutes, Let's does a commendable job of accentuating variety and avoiding monotony.
I've Got a Crush on You was made at an earlier session, with the rhythm section Thad used on 1527 (Barry Harris, Percy Heath, Max Roach). As usually happens when Thad is in his ballad mood, the verse is included. He dwells lingeringly on the major seventh that opens the chorus, then plays a beautifully controlled series of discreet variations on the melody. In the second chorus the variations are on the chord changes rather than on the tune itself, while Max nuages his way into a double-time feel in the background. Barry Harris, on the third chorus, makes fine harmonic use of the tune's natural resources and plays in a generally rubato style, then, unexpectedly, to close-the performance, Thad returns to the verse.
Following Thad's principle, I think I will close by returning to my own verse and reiterating the thought expressed in the opening paragraph, but with an extra added afterthought. The reason people like Thad Jones don't take as long to earn the appreciation of the fans, and of fellow musicians and critics, as would have been the case with a new musician a decade or so ago, is that talents of Thad's dimensions were not appearing that often or developing that fast.
- Leonard Feather