Monday, April 12, 2010

Thad JONES & Mel LEWIS Jazz Orchestra - Central Park North 1969

Thad JONES & Mel LEWIS Jazz Orchestra - Central Park North  1969


One of the most popular big bands of the 1950s and '60s, this jazz orchestra, dually led by drummer Mel Lewis and trumpeter Thad Jones, made excellent, driving music that incorporated classic swing, hard bop, and the funky, percolating rhythms of soul-jazz in a large-ensemble context. Long out of print and finally reissued in 2004, 1969's CENTRAL PARK NORTH reveals the band in its prime.

Distinguished by Jones's strong compositions ("Tow Away Zone" and the multi-part, Ellingtonian title track are standouts), the record features many fine sidemen, including bassist Richard Davis, pianist Roland Hanna, trumpeter Jimmy Nottingham, and saxophonist Jerome Richardson. Lewis's drumming pushes the proceedings in all modes, driving the band along nicely on Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba," in particular.
One doesn't automatically think of big bands when remembering late-'60s jazz, though big bands like the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra continued to make stimulating recordings. Central Park North, recorded and released in 1969, testifies that one could be a big band and progressive at the same time. Flügelhornist Jones and percussionist Lewis are joined by a large cast of players, including tenor Joe Farrell, trumpeter Jimmy Knepper, and pianist Roland Hanna. The music runs the gauntlet from funky soul-jazz to more gentle traditional work, sometimes within the same piece. Jones' "Tow Away Zone" begins like a rather typical late-'60s composition (horns and organ with a soulful groove), but as the individual players cut loose with excellent solo work — built within a multi-layered arrangement — the piece takes on a character of its own. "Quietude" moves in the opposite direction, living up to its title by keeping things low-key, while "Jazz Samba" is a nine-minute romp with some great piccolo work. The swinging "Big Dipper" and ambitious title cut bring Central Park North to a satisfying close. The album, at 37 minutes, will seem a bit short by post-millennium standards, but the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra makes every minute count. The 2004 reissue will be a welcomed by fans of adventurous big band music.
By Ronnie D. Lankford Jr.
Thad Jones- Flugelhorn
Mel Lewis - Drums
Eddie Daniels- Clarinet, Tenor Sax
Joe Farrell- Clarinet, Tenor,Soprano Sax
Jerome Richardson- Clarinet, Piccolo, Soprano Alto Sax
Joe Temperley- Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax
Daniel Moore- Trumpet
Jimmy Nottingham- Trumpet
Richard Gene Williams- Trumpet
Snooky Young- Trumpet
Benny Powell- Trombone
Eddie Bert- Trombone
Jimmy Knepper- Trombone
Cliff Heather- Bass Trombone
Sir Roland Hanna- Piano
Sam Leigh Brown- Guitar
Barry Galbraith- Guitar
Sam Herman- Guitar
Richard Anthony Davis- Bass 
A1. Tow Away Zone   4:25
A2. Quietude   4:03
A3. Jive Samba   8:50
B1. Groove Merchant   5:04
B2. Big Dipper   5:52
B3. Central Park North  9:14



  1. The link is bad;
    It makes reference to "The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard"
    Thank you for your great site.

    Lamermichel, from France