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Thad, Hank and Elvin Jones

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It's not surprising that Thad Jones, Hank Jones and Elvin Jones were jazz musicians. What is astonishing is that all three were exceptional, each with a distinctive and accomplished playing and recording career. By my count, the three brothers recorded together four times, on Keeping Up With the Joneses (1958), Herb Geller's Gypsy (1959) and Elvin Jones's And Then Again (1965) and Midnight Walk (1966).

The first album was their best. Recorded for Metrojazz, an MGM subsidiary, in May 1958, the trio added Eddie Jones (no relation) on bass. Thad played trumpet and flugelhorn, and Hank played piano and organ, with Elvin on drums.

The first four songs—Nice and Nasty, Keepin' Up With the Joneses, Three and One and Sput 'n' Jeff—were by Thad Jones. The remaining three were by Isham Jones (also no relation): It Had to Be You, On the Alamo and There Is No Greater Love.

What's remarkable about this album is how quiet it is. Thad plays mostly muted, and all of the players execute gently and hushed. As a result, Thad is out in the open, and we get to hear his playing and technique without interference. His beautiful round tone and fleshy notes are terse. without much lingering sound.

As brothers, the Joneses had plenty of mutual respect, as if in awe of each other. Space was left for each band member, which is what makes this album spacial. Even on the Isham Jones standards, the brothers play with refined elegance and taste, steering clear of crowding each other. Herb Geller's Gypsy is a jazz take on the Broadway show, Elvin's And hen Again is avant-garde and Midnight Walk is funky.

Of the four albums, Keeping Up With the Joneses is a great entry point for the music of Thad Jones.

JazzWax tracks: Here's Nice and Nasty...



And here's Sput 'n' Jeff...



     

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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