Scott Robinson Plays the Compositions of Thad Jones
All Selections by Thad Jones
- Quietude (5:54)
- To You (4:13)
- Interloper (5:50)
- Don't Ever Leave Me (3:49)
C-Flute, C-Melody Sax, F-Mezzo Sopr Sax
- Three and One (5:47)
- Yours and Mine (3:31)
- Fingers (3:57)
Eb Sop Flute, Contrabass Sarrusophone
- All My Yesterdays (4:27)
- TNA Blues (4:37)
- A Child is Born (4:14)
Theremin, Alto Cl., Bell
- Walkin' About (7:18)
- Kids are Pretty People (5:28)
- The Summary (3:53)
Flugelhorn, 6 French Horn parts
- Greetings and Salutations (5:45)
- Scott Robinson, leader; arranger; Tenor Sax, Bass Sax, Echo Cornet, C-Melody Sax,
F-Mezzo Soprano Sax, C-Flute, Eb Soprano Flute, Thundersheet, Contrabass Sarrusophone,
Theremin, Alto Clarinet, Bell, Flugelhorn, French Horn
- Mike Le Donne, Hammond B-3 Organ (2, 5, 9, 13, 14)
- Richard Wyands, Piano (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14)
- Hank Jones, Piano (8)
- Pat O'Leary, Bass (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14)
- Dennis Mackrel, Drums (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14)
- Klaus Suonsaari, Drums (2, 5, 9)
by Rufus Reid
I’ve been a huge fan, and continue to be one, of the sounds of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. In 1977 I was asked to join the band, replacing the magnificent George Mraz. It was a dream to play in the band, a gig that gave me an eloquent entrance onto the New York jazz scene immediately. Multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson is a huge fan as well. This recording, FOREVER LASTING, gives salute to the genius and the music of Thad Jones.
Many of Thad’s compositions have been recorded, but I think Scott is one of the first, if not the first to showcase his musical gems for an entire recording. “I really fell in love with this music, and was amazed at how it held up night after night – you would never tire of hearing or playing it,” says Scott, who only got to play in the band after Thad had passed. Scott and countless musicians have tried to figure out how Thad came up with his infectious ideas. He had a unique ability to be “free and easy going” all at the same time.
At Thad’s memorial service, Frank Foster said that Thad Jones fit most comfortably into the lineage of Jazz Royalty as one of America’s great composers like Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Tadd Dameron, etc. Thad Jones, the trumpeter/composer, is truly one of our most unsung treasures in jazz history. When you listen to Scott’s interpretations of Thad’s beautiful melodies, you too will agree with Mr. Foster while also becoming a big fan of Scott Robinson.
Great composers are those individuals who engage and entice you to listen repeatedly, always wanting to hear those infectious melodies and harmonies again and again. Mr. Thad Jones is certainly one of those individuals.
Taking the time to actually listen to music has always been a precious priority for me. I have had repeated listens to this spectacular Scott Robinson recording, and each and every time I smile and hear something I didn’t hear before. These sounds comfort me much like comfort food.
What you are about to hear is beautiful music brilliantly performed by Scott Robinson and friends. Scott is a multi-instrumentalist of rare quality. His arsenal of instruments performed on this recording consists of Tenor Saxophone, Bass Saxophone, Flute, Eb Soprano Flute, C-melody Saxophone, F Mezzo-Soprano Saxophone, Contrabass Sarrusophone, Theremin, Alto Clarinet, French Horn, and the Echo Cornet. The amazing part is he convinces you that each one is entirely his main instrument.
Scott Robinson is a mild-mannered individual who possesses an intense creative spirit. His expertise, articulation and clarity on each instrument are exceptional. All of the players assembled here are highly seasoned performers. All of them played with deep respect to the maestro, Thad Jones.
This recording is compiled of three sessions spanning more than a decade, yet it feels extremely cohesive. The presence of two rhythm sections, one with piano and the other organ, gives the CD great diversity of sounds. All of the musicians chosen – Richard Wyands, Pat O’Leary, Dennis Mackrel, Klaus Suonsaari, and Mike Le Donne – make a beautiful partnership and give stellar performances for the special melodies and harmonies of Thad Jones. Thad’s older brother, the magnificent Hank Jones, gives a cameo appearance in a duo performance with Scott on the beautiful melancholy theme, All My Yesterdays. Mr. Jones was very gracious and enthusiastic about the recording. Scott explains, “At some point I realized I didn’t really have a usable take of this tune, which I very much wanted to include. It happened that I had recently rescheduled one of my studio mixing dates in order to accommodate Hank, and to my amazement he said that he would repay the favor by coming in and recording this tune with me. How can I thank him enough! It was a thrilling experience. Although he was not particularly familiar with the tune, he tested out a bit of the melody and chords at the piano, laughed and said “That’s Thad, alright!”, and then played it beautifully on the first run-through.”
Each and every tune here is sculpted with care. Scott Robinson carefully chooses from his arsenal of instruments to bring out these unique beautiful melodies. Check out Walkin’ About, on the Echo Cornet. If you like to dance, this one will have you on the floor doing just that!
When I initially listened, a smile appeared upon my face. As I listened more, that smile became this huge grin and I began to chuckle with joy! I love the music of Thad Jones. I was reminded how much when I heard these wonderful renderings of his music. It also reminded me of the time I witnessed Thad at work writing three arrangements while traveling five hundred miles on a bus in Sweden with the TJ/MLO, heading for the recording studio. He knew the deadline was upon him. He put an invisible shield around himself and commenced to write incredible music. When we arrived at the studio, I watched closely while he checked a couple of things at the piano and then promptly gave the scores to the copyist who was anxiously waiting. I might add that the producer was quite nervous. When we did finally play and record these new charts, the entire band glowed with excitement to hear the new music. The creative harmonies and the clarity of the orchestration were fantastic! The producer was ecstatic and so were we, witnessing the music unfold so majestically. Thad Jones was a truly unique individual.
Scott Robinson is another truly unique individual that will surprise your senses in every way. He possesses an immense musical savvy. His creativeness on each tune is abundant, but never in excess so as to destroy the mood or direction of each piece. His improvisations are clever, witty and swinging. As you listen further into this recording, you will find yourself looking at who is playing what and yes, it’s Scott playing something different. You can literally count on one hand the individuals who can play so many instruments so well that you think each is their main instrument. The best part about that for me is that the music never suffers.
The first track opens the program with Quietude, with Scott’s flute inviting you in like a pied piper. Mr. O’Leary’s beautifully buoyant bass solo is first out of the box to set the tone for what’s in store for the listener. Everyone solos through these chord changes with ease. As the program unfolds upon your ears, you are embraced by pure music making. There is no grandstanding, no unnecessary digital gymnastics to clutter up things and no pretentious playing to “get over.” It is just great swinging, toe-tapping jazz.
The program is solid and definitely has something here for everyone’s tastes. Each of the renditions is played with a total understanding of how this music should be played. The maturity of each player brings this project to its highest level. I know Thad Jones would have been pleased to hear his music performed with such care and clarity. The titles chosen for this recording project illustrate the diversity of Thad’s unique writing. Two of my favorites here are To You and Yours and Mine. They are truly special compositions.
Thad Jones’ music is fun from Jump Street! If you are a seasoned jazz listener, you know the name Thad Jones from his days as a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, and later as a co-leader of his own band with Mel Lewis. However, you may not recognize many of the titles of his compositions before now – but I am confident that after listening to this recording you will become a fan of the music of Thad Jones and the artistry of the magnificent Scott Robinson.
As a former member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, I feel extremely blessed to have had the good fortune to play Thad’s music with him. Thad Jones, the composer, the arranger, the player, continues to have a profound musical effect on thousands of jazz musicians. He certainly has affected Scott Robinson who illustrates how beautiful this music is. I am deeply honored that Scott asked me to write these notes and to also be one of the first to hear the results of a long-awaited project. “FOREVER LASTING” will certainly be in my short stack of preferred recordings. BRAVO SCOTT! Give a listen and get ready to dine with the comfort sounds of Scott Robinson.
Rufus Reid / Bassist
A Note from Scott
Although I never had the chance to work with Thad Jones, I like to say that he was the only person to ever get me thrown out of a bar. Thad was gone from New York by the time I arrived, and living in Copenhagen. It was there that I met him in 1987, when Horace Parlan invited me to stop by his recording session with Thad and Eddie Harris. That's three of my big heroes in one room - how could I refuse? During a break, Thad invited me to a place across the street for a beer where, after he had a testy exchange with the foul-tempered matron of the place, we were abruptly ordered out. We had to laugh about it later - we'd been in there probably all of thirty seconds. yet the memory is a fond and lasting one, for that half-minute ecapsulated so many of the qualities of Thad Jones - gregariousness, feistiness, wit and complexity - which also infuse the music he wrote and performed over a 40-plus year career.
Although I never performed with Thad, I have certainly played and admired his music since childhood. What young player can pass through even the most rudimentary high school "stage band" program without coming to love the music of Thad Jones? Pieces like Big Dipper, Us, and others loomed large in my early educational landscape. Later in New York, I had the invaluable opportunity to play these pieces, and many others, with Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra in innumerable exciting Monday nights at the famed Village Vanguard, where Thad and Mel had initially taken up residence in 1965. It became my habit to bring a small music notebook each night, so that I could spend the break jotting down chords, melodies, voicings - anything that I wanted to take home and learn. After many nights of this I began to realize that, without setting out to , I was preparing to record an album of Thad's music.
The first pieces were recored live to 2-track at the now-greatly-missed RCA studios in New York, with a new instrumental combination that I had been wanting to try: organ trio with bass sax, Hammond B3, and drums (what a sound! bass sax and B3 are made for each other). This was back in 1992, and it would be more than a decade before I finally got around to recording the rest of the music. While mixing and assembling the CD, I tried unsuccessfully to come up with a satisfactory title. Prior to the final mastering session, while consulting some of my early notes for the project, an overlooked title jumped out at me, of a Thad tune that I had originally hoped to record but never got around to: Forever Lasting. Here, I realized, was the perfect title, saying just what I wanted to say about this music.
Let's hope that Thand Jones' music will be Forever Lasting in the american consciousness, and with more widespread recognition than it is accorded now.
Scott Robinson October 2006
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