audiophilejazz

The Magnificent Thad Jones

An LP deserving of its title—this album can make a jazz lover out of pretty much anybody. ‘The Magnificent Thad Jones’ is one of the Crown Jewels in Blue Note’s catalog, one of Rudy Van Gelder’s finest hours as a recording engineer, and a record that’s the perfect aural response when someone asks you to help them understand the meaning of “swing.” There’s not much brash, grandstanding, high-octane here. Instead, the mix of mid-tempo toe-tappers and gorgeous ballads are delivered with sizzling elegance by a small combo that gels perfectly. Leader Thad Jones (trumpet) recruited Billy Mitchell (tenor sax), Barry Harris (piano), Percy Heath (bass), & Max Roach (drums) to record this gem at the Notorious RVG’s studio in Hackensack, NJ in July 1956. While the whole record is one big highlight, I call your attention to the bookend tracks: the opening ballad “April in Paris” is one of the most beautiful readings of this standard, and the rich, buttery tone that Jones coaxes out of his trumpet will melt your heart. Then there’s the long closing Jones composition “Thedia.” This mid-tempo masterclass is sophisticated swing, telepathic storytelling, and instrumental mastery that unfolds over ten, perfect minutes. I’d be remiss in not calling out the album jacket—one of my favorite Blue Note covers of all time that’s like opening a time capsule to mid-1950s Time Square, NYC. This Music Matters 33 mono pressing is huge, detailed, and an incredibly satisfying listen on this rainy Saturday morning. Strong coffee and strong jazz are good medicine these days. Magnificent

Clark Terry

Continued excellence from SAM records! Clark Terry (trumpet) leads several of his fellow Duke Ellington Orchestra colleagues through three originals (“Serenade to a Bus Seat” is especially terrific) and a few standards. This session was recorded in Paris circa October 1959 and released in 1960 as Decca 153.924. Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax) is a well-matched sparring partner for Terry, and they’ve got a fantastic rhythm section that includes Raymond Fol (piano), Jimmy Woode (bass), and G. T. Hogan (drums). The opening, ten-plus minute track is a laid back masterclass in building narrative—it’s clear that everybody arrived with their “A” game—and whether romping through Monk’s “Pannonica Ou Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 No 2” or Ellington’s “Satin Doll”, this quintet is eager to showcase their skills beyond their work with the Ellington Orchestra. So the music is great, but that’s only half of it… @samrecordsfr has a well-earned reputation for EXTREMELY high quality vinyl reissues and this one is no exception. Remastered from the original tapes on 180gram vinyl with a glossy, flipback album jacket, this is a near-perfect reproduction of the original, and includes a double insert with a great shot by original photographer JP Leloir. They also inspect each record by hand to check for defects—this one as well as any other Sam Records reissue I’ve gotten has been perfect…centered, flat and quiet. Sonics are top shelf. Highly recommended but act quickly as this edition is limited to 2000 copies worldwide, and previous Sam Records editions have sold out and secondary market prices have gone WAY up