Saturday, August 16, 2014

Otra Vez: Thad's Second Joe Williams Date Reassessed

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

I'm finally getting a chance to listen closely to the recording Something Old, New and Blue, originally recorded by Solid State in late April, 1968. It was billed as "Joe Williams and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra but the big band per se is not on it. In fact, the largest instrumentation on any one of the eleven tunes is 11 pieces, and that includes guitar and vibes, not part of the touring band at that time. The date was recorded in Los Angeles and supplemented with a string section. It's not known who did the string arrangements, possibly added after the session was recorded but beautifully integrated into the band arrangement.

The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra was in San Francisco on 22 April 1968 to do a TV broadcast at KQED Studios for Ralph J. Gleason's show Jazz Casual. This 30-minute episode has been released on DVD (Idem 1014) and on CD (Koch 8563). The personnel touring the West Coast at that time was:

Thad Jones cornet, flh; Snooky Young, Danny Moore, Richard Williams, Randy Brecker tp; Bob Brookmeyer vtb; Jimmy Knepper, Garnett Brown tb; Benny Powell btb; Jerome Richardson as, ss, cl, fl; Jerry Dodgion as, ss, fl; Seldon Powell ts; Eddie Daniels ts, cl, fl; Pepper Adams bs, cl; Roland Hanna p; Richard Davis b; Mel Lewis dm.

The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra had a week-long engagement at Marty's in Hollywood beginning that evening, stretching from the 22nd to the 27th. I believe Jerry Dodgion told me that the band didn't get paid for that week gig. Pepper, for his part, had a gig in Richmond, Virginia with the Duke Pearson Big Band on 28 April, then he was back in his chair behind the pole at the Village Vanguard on Monday night, 29 April.

It seems likely that Thad would draw players from his band for the Joe Williams session. Why use unknown entities? Frank Basile feels that Mel Lewis is on the date and that Jerome Richardson and Eddie Daniels might take solos. If Pepper's on any tunes, says Basile, he's only on three cuts: One More for My Baby, Everybody Loves My Baby and When I Take My Sugar to Tea. Here's my feedback after listening to these short performances, possibly intended for juke box, 45-rpm release:

1. Young Man on the Way Up: According to David Demsey, Thad wrote this chart and it sounds like it. It also sounds like Mel Lewis is playing drums.

2. Hurry on Down: Obbligato flugelhorn playing behind the opening vocals could be Thad Jones. Piano playing could be Roland Hanna.

3. When I Take My Sugar to Tea: Sounds like a Thad chart. Freddie Green style rhythm guitar playing. The short trumpet solo spots sound like Snooky Young.

4. Honeysuckle Rose: Organ in place of piano. Does anyone know of Roland Hanna playing the instrument? Hank Jones and Wynton Kelly recorded on it so why not? The organ break is very non-descript.

5. Did I Really Live: Opening flugelhorn playing could be Thad Jones. The chart sounds like Thad had a part in it and farmed out the strings to fill in afterwards, which have in this case a "Bird with String" lush romanticism. The long bass notes sound like Richard Davis.

6. Loneliness, Sorrow and Grief: This also sounds like a Thad chart. The piano solo break is non-descript. Very brief tenor playing and muted trumpet in background.

7. Imagination: Guitar and organ. Organ lines could be Roland Hanna. Flugelhorn obbligato might be Thad. Tenor solo behind vocals sound like Eddie Daniels' lacy style, and the guitar chords (behind vocals in a duet setting) sound like it could be Kenny Burrell here. Some of the band figures sound like Thad's writing.

8. One More for My Baby: Vibes added. Terry Gibbs was in LA then, right? Who else would Thad hire? Guitar might be Burrell, who I believe was living there by then too. Guitar is given prominence in this chart, further supporting someone like Burrell in the band. The chart definitely sounds like Thad's. It also sounds like Jerome Richardson on lead alto and on the alto breaks. Piano arpeggios sound like Roland Hanna.

9. Everyone Wants to Be Loved: Organ added in place of piano. This sounds like a Thad chart.

10. Everybody Loves My Baby: The most obvious Thad chart from the opening and throughout. Vibes and guitar added. Prominent use of guitar in the chart.

11. If I Were a Bell: This also sounds like a Thad chart.

Final comments: Joe Williams is terrific throughout and there's some swinging tunes and beautiful moments. I recommend picking this one up. A real obscure gem!  I'm revising my discographical entry from Pepper Adams' Joy Road thusly:

23-27 April 1968, Los Angeles: possible personnel: Thad Jones flh; Snooky Young tp, flh; Garnett Brown, Jimmy Knepper or Benny Powell tb; Jerome  Richardson as; Eddie Daniels ts; Pepper Adams bs; Roland Hanna p, org; Kenny Burrell g; Terry Gibbs vib; Richard Davis b; Mel Lewis dm; Joe Williams voc; string section.

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