Label: Denon - COCY-80752 • Format: CD Album • Country: Japan • Genre: Jazz •
Patrick Jarenwattananon. Your purchase helps support NPR programming. This tune comes from a demo tape of a band's first-ever public gig. The recording engineer was a year-old college radio kid scrambling to capture 18 musicians in a tiny basement club.
But half a century later, that kid now runs a record label and deemed his work good enough to re-touch and issue as part of a deluxe 2-CD package. After all, this was no ordinary band. Within three months of that first gig, this group started making "real" albums — five LPs worth in the next four years, plus two album-length collaborations with singers. It remains probably the most influential Spaceshiters - Grinding Dancers From Outa Space jazz ensemble of the last 50 years.
Thad Jones composed, Riot In The Cell Block #9 - Dr. Feelgood - Adventures At The BBC - 1977 Onwards, conducted and played trumpet and Женщина мечты - Various - ОРТ-3 for the jazz orchestra he led with drummer Mel Lewis.
The band's leaders were mid-career "musician's musicians": Thad Jellyfish Blooms - Cubic Nomad - Mantaa distinctive trumpeter and the composer-arranger mastermind, and Mel Lewisa drummer with deft cymbal work and a lot of experience in large ensembles.
Never mind that big bands had long since become economically impractical in jazz; they had a difficult repertoire Volcano - Damien Rice - O mind that was rejected by Count Basie Jones' former employerand wanted to see it executed properly. So they handpicked some of their favorite players across age and skin color, rehearsed Monday nights at midnight — Back Bone - Thad Jones - Mel Lewis & The Jazz Orchestra* - Live In Tokyo all the television and studio musicians had gotten off work — and booked a Monday at the Village Vanguard, a ish capacity club in New York.
It was an instant hit among fellow musicians, who were sneaking in to hear its rehearsals before it even played this first gig. All these years later, the jazz orchestra that has descended from Jones and Lewis' band still plays the Vanguard every Monday.
The song's spine is a simple blues, but its skeleton is filled out by Thad Jones signatures: frenetic backgrounds which may have been made up on the spot, overlapping and overgrown ensemble passages, a sax section feature into the closing theme. The muscle is provided by major players: alto saxophonist Jerry Dodgionwho runs wild for minutes at the start; short features for Richard Davis bass, now an NEA Jazz Masterand Hank Jones piano, Thad's older brother and also an NEA Jazz MasterBob Brookmeyer Back Bone - Thad Jones - Mel Lewis & The Jazz Orchestra* - Live In Tokyo , later a major big band composer-arranger himselfthen Garnett Brown also tromboneand then, both at once.
Lastly, there's a feature for Mel Lewis on drums. Tune, arrangement and execution all told, "Backbone" is a raging hulk. But what it lacked in spit-shine precision is more than supplanted by its raw energy, by the crowd noise, the shouts and hollers from Thad and his bandmates and the other musicians in the room — the folks were riled up.
For all the band gave to jazz composition, it also played loud and fast, took heroic solo turns and swung like crazy. Not bad for a debut performance. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. Don't Tell Me! NPR Shop. It lays complex arrangements over simple blues forms. It also swings like crazy. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. February 11, AM ET.
Amazon iTunes. Enlarge this image. Mel Lewis.
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