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Mad Thad

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Album Review

Though still a member of the Count Basie band, Thad Jones began to make his mark as a forward-thinking bop trumpeter and writer with recordings such as these from 1956 and 1957. Like its companion release, The Jones Boys, the performances are from a gathering of the leader's namesakes and members of the Basie band. The Detroit connection is also represented by pianist Tommy Flanagan and bassist Doug Watkins, along with Thad and his brother Elvin (on drums for four tracks). The music is cool, swinging bop that has affinities with the transitional sounds of Jones' contemporaries Miles Davis and Clifford Brown. The Basie influence is evident in the insistent, economic pulse of the rhythm section. The young leader's tart, inviting sound finds good company in the energetic, swinging, imaginative work of saxophonists Frank Foster and Frank Wess (who switches to flute for a track). Trombonist Henry Coker sets up some closely voiced Gil Evans-like harmonies on three tracks. The performances are from a December 1956 quintet date that includes two tracks arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones, and from a January 1957 sextet session. The CD includes a ballad medley from the 1957 session that was originally put out on a release shared with Sonny Rollins. With the exception of the medley, the performances have the energy and impact of early bop informed by the harmonic innovations that were evolving in the latter half of the 1950s. The medley ("Flamingo," "If You Were Mine," "I'm Through With Love," "Love Walked In"), on the other hand, has a traditional swing conception that doesn't mesh well with the progressive tendencies of the other tracks.

Biography

Born: 28 March 1923 in Pontiac, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

A harmonically advanced trumpeter/cornetist with a distinctive sound, as well as a talented arranger/composer, Thad Jones (the younger brother of Hank and older brother of Elvin) had a very productive career. Self-taught on trumpet, he started playing professionally with Hank Jones and Sonny Stitt when he was 16. After serving in the military (1943-1946), Jones worked in territory bands in the Midwest. During 1950-1953 he performed regularly with Billy Mitchell's quintet in Detroit and he made a...
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Mad Thad, Thad Jones
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