The Jazz.com Blog
September 10, 2009 · 0 comments
This sixteen-piece big band is the current iteration of the original Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra started by those two musicians in 1966. Performing each Monday night at New York’s Village Vanguard, the band is currently concentrating on less well known works in the Jones-Lewis book.
They opened with the spiky “Mean What You Say,” featuring Scott Wendholt’s engaging, urbane lines. Two Bob Brookmeyer charts followed, one brand new and the other equally as fresh sounding after a good forty years. “Oatts,” written for lead alto player Dick Oatts, was the perfect platform for Oatts’s biting, angular post-modern solo. “ABC Blues”—another Brookmeyer chart from the sixties, contained solos by Joe Magnarelli’s rapid trumpet, Mark Small’s melodic tenor sax, and Jason Jackson’s spacious trombone, with opening and closing piano sections, riotous full band polyphony, and an interlude for drums.
In “The Waltz You Swang for Me,” Rock Ciccarone took a bright, fluent solo on trombone, but Billy Drewes was all but airborne on soprano sax, with a cadenza both abstract & lyrical. As band leader and trombonist John Mosca introduced “Kids are Pretty People,” he added, “when they’re not your own.” With beautiful tone, he carefully developed his solo on this chart from a simple statement into double-time layered complexity.
When Thad Jones wrote “My Centennial” in 1976, he may have had Latin America in mind. Led by the trumpet section, its mambo groove cleared out room for the rounded bebop lines of Gary Smulyan, who appeared later that evening with the Dave Holland octet. The band closed with the rich and gentle “To You,” scored for horns in close harmony and dedicated to the memory of Ted Kennedy.
This blog entry posted by Roanna Forman. For links to the rest of Forman’s coverage of the festival, click here