It sounds silly at first: "Get this - everyone in the band is a Jones!" You laugh, but not long -- this is some serious jam. The rhythm lays an easy groove; the horns (sometimes one, sometimes three) shout with power and strut like mad. It sounds like a working group, and it should: many were regulars for Period Records, and most were bandmates at Basie. Get acquainted with overlooked talent, and hear a young star as he’s starting to rise. It works, and a Jones by any other name would sound as sweet.
It was taped in New York, with its heart in Kansas City: Every Jones has connections to Basie, except Jimmy and Quincy. On most tunes Thad is the star; he makes himself heard in a number of ways. He’s ancient on "No Other Love", a trebly mute as though through a megaphone. A stately dance, and your partner is handsome. "Breathless" is a warm romantic - Jimmy twinkles the chords and Thad glows. There’s a light vibrato, easy force to the notes - a mood that fits the melody. And yes, the blues: "For the Joneses" is pure Basie, from Jimmy’s ease to Papa Jo’s ride. Here Thad is spunky: a tiny rust in his tone, and it works like a charm. Jimmy chimes the wee hours, and there they march into the cool night. They way they play it - very cool indeed.
"You’ve Changed" starts aching, a gorgeous display of Jimmy’s grace. Thad’s tone is like "Breathless"; with less vibrato he’s sad and sincere, bringing the bad news gently. "Blue Bird" starts the same way; hear pungent chords in a solemn descent. The mood is set, Thad blows it away - long lovely tones, full of sunshine. It’s a Detroit club Thad played at, and the affection is strong. Jimmy chords his solo; a decent effort, but he does better elsewhere. Not so for Thad; throughoutyou think it can’t get better than this. And so many times he does.
Thad is hot by himself, but when two trumpets join him, it really gets cookin’. "Jones Bash" starts whimsical, Thad on a mute, Eddie with a solid walk. The drums kick and we’re off: darting steps, and they rush with elegance. Jimmy goes punchy, hammering a riff we hear later. We get a surprise from Papa: he solos with his fingertips, for a conga-like sound. Now come the brass: they all hit Jimmy’s riff, thrilling and loud. Bash, nothing - it’s more of a blowout. You glide onto "Jones Beach", Eddie slinking by the blue keys. The chart gets your ears working: some horns ascend as others get down. Quincy whispers his solo, a broad sound with breathy trembles. Jimmy is eloquent in his simplicity; Thad has the lazy-day blues as Jo walks beside. Strong it is, and tough - it’s more of a muscle beach.
"Miss Jones" turns everyone’s head: Reunald sets forth brassy, a nice turn from one who rarely got to solo. Thad answers with a similar tone, only more mellow; his bit is well-structured, and keeps getting better the longer it goes. No doubt - this "Miss" is worth meeting. "Montego Bay" (thankfully not the Bobby Bloom hit) takes a hard island riff and sets it atop a brass wail. Thad’s mute is nervous, curling in slow patterns; Jimmy rolls in slow, uneasy patterns. An island of storms in a sea of swing - and you will surely want to visit.
Rating: *** ¾. A very enjoyable outing, and a showcase for Thad. The rhythm is perfect, especially apt at the blues; Jimmy is subtle and always worth hearing. The other horns shine on "Jones Bash"; also hear "No Other Love", "Breathless", "You’ve Changed", "Blue Bird", and "Have You Met Miss Jones?" If you like the old swing, this will satisfy your jones.