This is the second of a semi-regular series of articles in which I discuss some of my favorite jazz albums that also happen to be great jazz for a Saturday night.
Last week’s subject was Jimmy McGriff’s “The Dream Team”. This week we’ll look at one of Thad Jones’ early releases, “Detroit-New York Junction”.
This short album (34 minutes) would be easy to overlook for modern collectors accustomed to getting twice as much music for their money. That would be a shame, because “Detroit-New York Junction” is a great album for a Saturday (or any other) night.
It doesn’t appear that a lot has been written about “Detroit-New York Junction”, and my yard sale copy is missing the booklet. Because of this I know little of the background of this disk, other than most of the sidemen are, like Jones himself, from the Detroit area.
Jones came from a musical family. He was the “middle kid” of three boys, Hank and Elvin being the others, all of whom went on to highly successful careers. Sadly, all three are no longer with us.
Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the personnel:
Thad Jones, trumpet
Tommy Flanagan, piano
Kenny Burrell, guitar
Billy Mitchell, Tenor sax
Oscar Pettiford, bass
Shadow Wilson, drums
The set kicks off with a nice rendition of the Rodgers & Hart tune, “Blue Room”, followed by one of the album’s three Jones originals, “Tariff”, on which the entire ensemble jumps in almost immediately and you know this is no book-reading music. Mitchell’s tenor sax takes the lead about a minute in, followed by Burrell’s masterful guitar, Tommy Flanagan’s piano, and all the while Pettiford and Wilson set a fast pace.
“Tariff” is followed by the album’s other Rodgers & Hart number, the beautiful “Little Girl Blue”. Jones’ trumpet and Burrell’s guitar dominate the piece. At just under three minutes, this is easily the shortest number on the album and almost seems to be over before it gets started.
Two more Jones originals round out the album. “Scratch” and “Zec”. “Scratch” clocks in at 10 minutes and 32 seconds and is the longest song on the album. It begins as a trio affair, with Flanagan, Burrell and Mitchell sitting on the sidelines while Jones, Wilson and Pettiford take it away. About 4 and a half minutes in, Burrell steps up and takes the lead for a moment before handing it to Flanagan, who then gives way to Mitchell.
“Zec” is a lively number that allows Jones to show his chops while the others try to keep up. When Jones steps back to allow the others their turn in the limelight, the pace does not let up. Burrell’s fretwork and Flanagan’s keyboard mastery, followed by Mitchell’s blowing, move this song along in a foot-tapin’, hand-clapin’ style. All-in-all, “Zec” is the perfect choice to close out this album.
If “Detroit-New York Junction” doesn’t leave you wanting more, you haven’t been paying attention.
Thanks for reading this.
Wood Village, Oregon
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