Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Big Band – Opening Night
(BMG – 2002)
by Ricky Miller
Containing over 71 minutes of never-released music, this CD takes you back to the famed Village Vanguard. The date was Feb 7th, 1966 and the night was electric. Featuring the likes of Pepper Adams, Joe Farrell, Bob Brookemeyer, Hank Jones and Eddie Daniels this performance gave a new meaning to the name ‘swinging big band’. I particularly liked ‘Once Around’ and ‘The Little Pixie, both longer (over 12:00) tracks because they reflect the atmosphere of music performances in that day, giving the music time to put you under it’s spell.
‘Lover Man’ also features some unique styling on the horns… not quite Billy Holiday but again very indicative of the style of the period. Overall this CD is enjoyable both as a period piece and for it’s performance value. This is the performance that launched the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis big band into the limelight and on the road to a long and illustrious career.