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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Solid State Presenting Thad Jones Mel Lewis &"The Jazz Orchestra"

Here's an interesting one...ALthough it should be catalog number Solid State 16003 this was apparently put out by the Capitol Records Record Club as SMAS 90890.. In 1966 producer Sonny Lester (who had been producing for other labels) sets up his own record label with Phil Ramone and calls it Solid State..It was distributed by United Artists which provides the inner sleeve for this recording.. The idea it seems was to record jazz in a high quality audio setting and with deluxe gatefold packaging..Sort of an Enoch Light Command Records except with a little more highbrow jazz music... This release introducing what amounts to a Thad Jones Mel Lewis big band- in an age where big bands were largely not viable (only the Clarke Bolland big band recording in Europe comes to mind) and what a big band it was! First of all there's the great trumpter/flugelhorn player Thad Jones who had been around for a while and recorded a few amazing albums on Blue Note including "The Magnificent Thad Jones" but check out some of these names: On saxophone Jerome Richardson, a very young Joe Farrell, Jerry Dodgion, Eddie Daniels and no less than Pepper Adams, Bob Brookmeyer on the bone, Richard Davis on bass, and on piano the still kicking Hank Jones..The record has a few notes on the technical recording credited to Phil Ramone who was obviously the engineer but is listed as the "Audio Director"..Sonny Lester would go on to put out some great records on Solid State including the more critically acclaimed Mel Lewis Thad Jones Orchestra with Joe Williams LP..In the 1970s Sonny Lester would found another label - Groove Merchant- which specialized in funky music particularly organmeisters like Jimmy Mcgriff and Richard Groove Holmes..Mcgriff recorded on Solid State (i.e., The Worm) too and in fact his "Electric Funk" LP I think was produced for Solid State and I'm not sure why it came out on Blue Note..$1

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