Jazz CD Reviews
Thad Jones – Detroit-New York Junction – Blue Note RVG Series
Published on May 11, 2007
(Thad Jones, trumpet; Billy Mitchell, tenor sax; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Shadow Wilson, drums)
Previously available only as a Japanese-issued Blue Note or as part of the Thad Jones Mosaic box set, the commercial RVG series issue of Thad Jones’ first session for Blue Note has been long overdue. The sidemen on this CD were mostly made up of the cream of the crop Detroit elite: Jones, Mitchell, Burrell, and Flanagan. Detroit’s contribution towards hard bop’s royalty takes a back seat to no other American city. The Jones Bros. (Hank, Thad, and Elvin) would have been enough of a major contribution, but the addition of the other Detroit superstars makes the Motor City more than just a soul music haven. When you throw in Pepper Adams, Barry Harris, and Donald Byrd, Blue Note could have made Detroit their second home.
This new addition to the RVG series catalog boasts similar improvement over original Blue Note issues, though in the case of this album, the Japanese Blue Note issue has its own fans as the definitive version. Regardless, this is special music, long available only at a premium price. Now at $12 to $13 list price it’s a steal and a must for any Thad Jones or Blue Note fan.
Picking a particular favorite track is near impossible as all five tracks are top notch. There is the warm round inviting tone of Thad’s on Blue Room – smooth as silk. Tariff has the ensemble blend and the under appreciated Billy Mitchell blowing his soulful tenor. Rodgers and Hart’s Little Girl Blue features both Thad again plus Kenny Burrell’s gorgeous guitar lines. It’s 2:48 of bliss.
The longest track at 10:38, Scratch, gives the whole group a chance to share in the limelight, but Thad once again has the dominant say in the proceedings with over half of the song’s highlights. Burrell is given a longer solo here as well. Flanagan has some space of his own and the legendary Oscar Pettiford even gets a few licks of his own. Zec closes out the Detroit workout with boppish delight. Thad later became much more involved with arranging and leading big bands along with Mel Lewis, and it is therefore a special treat to have this small group masterpiece available at a beer-budget price.
TrackList: Blue Room, Tariff, Little Girl Blue, Scratch, Zec.
– Jeff Krow