If jazz bands were like classic muscle cars measured by power and torque, the high performance Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra was an inexhaustible engine that roared. February 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of this historic 18-member band and All My Yesterdays is the double-disc recording that documents their debut performances in February and March 1966. Defined by super-sized swing, a bold brass section with the likes of Pepper Adams, Bob Brookmeyer and Joe Farrell, and a dream rhythm section (bassist Richard Davis, pianist Hank Jones and guitarist Sam Herman), the band’s precision, sophistication and style was trendsetting and their modern sound remains influential.
The camaraderie is tangible on this live recording by producer George Klabin when he was 19 years old, and now restored to perfection—the superb sound puts you right at a front table at the Vanguard and the feeling is electrifying. Thad Jones is the former Basie trumpeter who leads the band like a revival meeting, shouting the jazz gospel with enthusiastic approval, calling out the solos on fun, crowd-pleasing tracks “Big Dipper,” “Mornin’ Reverend” and “Back Bone.” Jones is one of the best trumpet players ever; his solo on “The Little Pixie” is loose, swinging and brings a requisite soulfulness that’s unshakeable. An essential recording. (6 tracks; 47 minutes / 11 tracks; 74 minutes)