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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Mad Thad and Olio

Vocalion CDNJT 5307



1. Jumping For Jane
2. Bird Song
3. Mad Thad
4. Cat Meets Chick
5. Whisper Not
6. Quiet Sip
7. Potpourri
8. Blues Without Woe
9. Touché
10. Dakar
11. Embraceable You
12. Hello 'Frisco
Thad Jones - Trumpet
Frank Foster - Tenor Sax (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Jimmy Jones - Piano (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Doug Watkins - Bass (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Jo Jones - Drums (tracks 1, 3, 5)
Frank Wess - Tenor sax, flute (tracks 2, 4, 6-12)
Henry Coker - Trombone (tracks 4, 6)
Tommy Flanagan - Piano (tracks 2, 4, 6)
Eddie Jones - Bass (tracks 2, 4, 6)
Elvin Jones - Drums (tracks 2, 4, 6-12)
Teddy Charles - Vibes (tracks 7-12)
Mal Waldron - Piano (tracks 7-12)

Thad Jones is probably better known as a composer and arranger than as a trumpeter, since his work in the former fields - especially with Count Basie's orchestra and then with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band - tends to overshadow his abilities on trumpet. Yet these two albums from 1957 present him as a trumpeter of notable skill.

Thad has an attractively furry trumpet tone, and is heard at his best on the slower numbers like Whisper Not and Embraceable You. However, many of the tunes are up-tempo bebop workouts which display Thad's agility but present him with occasional difficulties in improvising at speed.

Both albums surrounded Thad Jones with a plethora of Joneses: not only his younger brother Elvin but also Eddie Jones and Jo Jones (both associated with Count Basie) and pianist Jimmy Jones who, at the time, was working as accompanist to Sarah Vaughan. The Basie connection is strengthened by the presence of Frank Foster, Frank Wess and Henry Coker. All these three contribute commendable solos. Oh, and another Jones was involved in a couple of tracks. Quincy Jones wrote the title-track for Mad Thad and arranged Whisper Not.

Elvin Jones's drumming is sometimes erratic, especially when he exchanges fours with the other musicians on such tracks as Bird Song and Blues Without Woe, as his four bars tend to extend into four-and-a-half! The drumming is more consistent on the three tracks where Jo Jones plays, although he sadly died the year after these albums were first issued.

One mystery is that some versions of Mad Thad include a ballad medley which is not on this reissue. Apparently the medley was originally part of a different LP.  At any rate. it is useful to have these two albums available on one CD at a reasonable price. Incidentally, Olio should not be confused with the Sonny Rollins composition Oleo; the sleeve-note explains that an olio is a mixture or miscellany.

Tony Augarde




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