The Great Jazz Trio now has a 30-year history of recording fabulous jazz performances and has earned a large following of admirers and fans. The "original" The Great Jazz Trio consisted of Hank Jones, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Over the years, The Great Jazz Trio featured some of the most unique and interesting combinations of superb musicians with Hank Jones at the center, including Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Buster Williams, Eddie Gomez and Al Foster. The previous trio with Richard Davis and Elvin Jones, Hank’s brother, in their session, dubbed the "Avatar Sessions," recorded in May 2002, resulted in three albums, Autumn Leaves (441 Records), Someday My Prince Will Come (Columbia) and Collaborations (441 Records). ‘S WONDERFUL is the latest production of The Great Jazz Trio. This time, Hank is joined by John Patitucci on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums forming another dream team of jazz greats. At 85-years young (at the time of recording), Hank is still going strong and his energy is well matched to these younger, talented musicians.
In the spring of 1975, the "original" The Great Jazz Trio performed together for the very first time at the Village Vanguard for one week. That "dream team" of jazz giants came together at the urging of drummer Tony Williams. The group was billed as "The Great Jazz Trio," a name that was coined by the late Max Gordon, owner of The Village Vanguard. When Max Gordon called Hank Jones to ask if he would perform with Ron and Tony, Hank got very excited. Hank had just finished a long stint as a studio session musician and the idea of playing with Ron and Tony, who are from different generations, intrigued him.
The trio got together again in May of 1976 to do a studio recording. The three got along so well that they decided to perform together again. The trio was booked at The Village Vanguard for a week long engagement in February 1977. The live recordings from the performance established The Great Jazz Trio as one of the premiere trios of jazz and resulted in three albums - At The Village Vanguard, At The Village Vanguard Volume 2 and At The Village Vanguard Again (all available from Test of Time Records).
The concept of The Great Jazz Trio is to surround Hank Jones with excellent musicians and feature all the players equally. If the musicians have not played with Hank Jones before, the mixture may prove even more interesting. This was and has been the goal for the project as pursued by Yasohachi "88" Itoh, the producer of ‘S WONDERFUL and most of The Great Jazz Trio recordings, including the very first one.
Itoh continued, "Shortly after the ‘Avatar Sessions,’ Elvin Jones sadly passed away. Selecting a drummer has always been an important element to The Great Jazz Trio following in the tradition that Tony Williams started. So we selected the most talented drummer playing today, Jack DeJohnette. Surprisingly, Jack had never played with Hank before and was eager to work with him. John Patitucci was a big fan of Hank’s so all the players fell into place. The session went very smoothly and everyone played off each other beautifully."
The album starts with and features drumming by Jack DeJohnette in an up-tempo "‘S Wonderful." Very well known songs that are not covered very often such as "Take Five" and "Moanin’" were tackled and given a new twist by the trio. "Sweet Lorraine" and "I Surrender Dear" were personal requests that Itoh made to the trio to record. Itoh always loved these songs as performed by Teddy Wilson and thought that Hank Jones had the velvet touch to bring these songs alive again. The album concludes with a most heartfelt rendition of "Green Sleeves."
Sometime next year, the trio plans to tour if their schedule permits it. All three are very much in demand. Itoh commented, "It would be fitting for the trio to perform at The Village Vanguard. That is where The Great Jazz Trio started."
Hank Jones has been very prolific as of late. Recently, he joined tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano on Lovano's release Joyous Encounter from Blue Note. Hank also just released For My Father from Justin Time. Hank is still full of energy at the age of 87. With stimulating partners such as John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette, Hank will likely keep playing long after he is 100.
About 441 Records
441 RECORDS is an innovative, independent record label featuring top quality jazz recordings. 441 RECORDS is located within Avatar Studios in New York City. For years, Avatar's management was astonished that dozens of great albums by world-renowned jazz artists recorded at Avatar Studios were never made available for sale in the U.S., yet did well in foreign markets. 441 RECORDS was established with a mission to market for the U.S. much of the aforementioned jazz music recorded or mixed at Avatar. The organization follows the classic model of a "boutique label," working very closely with artists from project conception to final product distribution. In April 2005, 441 RECORDS launched a new label imprint, Test of Time Records to reissue over thirty of the East Wind Masterpiece Collection line from Japan, which feature for the first time on Compact Disc some of the best sounding Jazz from the late ‘70s. This line includes the most comprehensive collection of The Great Jazz Trio recordings available today.