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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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The Magnificent

Blue Note 0946 3 92768 2 0






1. April in Paris
2. Billie-Doo
3. If I Love Again
4. If Someone Had Told Me
5. Thedia
6. I’ve Got a Crush on You
7. Something to Remember You By

Thad Jones – Trumpet
Billy Mitchell – Tenor sax (tracks 1-6)
Barry Harris – Piano (tracks 1-6)
Percy Heath – Bass (tracks 1-6)
Max Roach – Drums (tracks 1-6)
Kenny Burrell – Guitar (track 7)

Thad Jones was a man of many parts: trumpeter, cornetist, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger and bandleader. He is probably best known for his work as a member of Count Basie’s band and then as co-leader of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. But this album presents him as leader of a small group, recorded in 1956 (while he was with Basie) and now remastered by Rudy Van Gelder.

His many other roles may have tended to obscure Thad’s abilities as a soloist, especially as his compositions have become so widely used by rehearsal bands. Yet this album allows us to enjoy his attractive tone and inventive improvising. His solo on the opening April in Paris echoes the start of that classic trumpet solo in Count Basie’s version of the same tune but continues with fresh melodic ideas. His own composition Billie-Doo contains a similarly mellow solo, followed by some eloquent tenor-sax from Billy Mitchell (who was later to join Thad Jones in the Basie band).

If I Love Again gives solo space to pianist Barry Harris, whose clear-lined statement is followed by warm-toned tenor from Mitchell and what sounds as if it might be cornet rather than trumpet from Jones. Max Roach plays a fairly subdued drum solo. If Someone Had Told Me is a tender ballad, with Thad again sounding smooth enough to be on cornet – foreshadowing his flugelhorn playing with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.

Thedia, another Jones original, is in the bebop idiom and it allows all the musicians to stretch out in a performance that lasts more than ten minutes. The CD ends with two tracks that were not on the original LP. The Gershwin brothers’ lovely I’ve Got a Crush on You lets Thad Jones and Barry Harris rhapsodise sensitively, while Something to Remember You By is a duet for Thad and guitarist Kenny Burrell – another exercise in sensitivity.

There is nothing earth-shaking about this album but it reminds us that Thad Jones was a considerable soloist, even though his brilliance in other spheres may have overshadowed this talent.

Tony Augarde


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