Happily, many of the same stellar musicians return for the new album. Hank Jones, James Moody, Benny Golson, Frank Wess, Jimmy Owens and Richard Davis are back. Bob Brookmeyer and Mickey Roker are replaced by John Mosca and Kenny Washington. The recent session was laid down at New York’s Clinton Studios in May 2005. All compositions are by Thad Jones with the exception of "Groove Merchant" which flowed from the pen of Jerome Richardson. The latter, as one would expect, is a vehicle for reedmen Golson, Wess and Daniels. Jerome Richardson had been lead alto in the Thad Jones band as well as a star in the orchestra of the late Henry Mancini during the days of Peter Gunn.
One of our favorites on the new album has to be "Birdsong" with its wonderful flute and trumpet exchanges between Frank Wess and Jimmy Owens. Interestingly, Frank Wess had taken the flute solos on the first waxing of the tune back in 1957 with Thad’s band.
The absolute highlight is "The Great One." Penned in the early 1970s as a tribute to Louis Armstrong, the piece has a certain blues feeling. Look for great solo work by Owens, Hank Jones, Mosca and the reeds. While the notes attempt to document the order of soloists, it just doesn’t happen on every track. Nevertheless, listeners will appreciate the music in any case. This volume is a gathering of the "greats" belonging to a jazz genre with mass appeal. Thad Jones and his music will not be forgotten. This CD is truly a gem!