Besides being the co-leader of the Famed Jones-Lewis Orchestra, the director of The Count Basie Orchestra and the producer of countless cooking small group sessions, trumpeter/composer/arranger Thad Jones had a career in Denmark as the head of The Danish Radio Big Band; these sessions from 1978 to 1980 show that this mix of ex-pats and Europeans were able to produce some of the finest music you’d ever want to come across. Mixing his allegiance to Basie’s sense of swing and the blues as well as modern thought, Jones’ material here is on a par with contemporary orchestras like Akyoshi-Tabackin or his own band with Mel Lewis. It’s that excellent.
Americans such as Idrees Sulieman/tp, Horace Parlan/p, Sahib Shihab/as, Tim Hagans/tp and Ed Thigpen/dr dot the orchestras that also include impressive members such as Jesper Thilo/sax, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen/b Ole Kock Hansen/p and Bent Jaedig/ts. The ’78 concert at Montmartre has a fantastically hip reading of “Tip Toe” wit Sulieman sounding superb, and a take of “ Daydream” that has Thilo creating some heavy REM activity. Jones’ charts, as on “61st And Rich’It” have an infectious and irresistible swing to them, but with sharp hairpin turns that keep you hanging onto the handlebars. The Studio tracks from ’79 and concert material from ’80 have a bit more of a straight-ahead bluesy feel, with “Basically Yours” and “Scrapple From The Apple” getting down to jazz’s essentials. Parlan’s “Arrival” and Jones’ “My Centennial” sizzle and percolate like grilled onions on a mobile grill on Olviera Street. Scrumptious music, and a feast from heaven for fans of Big Band jazz.