Discovering and Unearthing Lost Treasures: Thad Jones's writing for the Harry James Orchestra

Few people have ever heard a great-sounding band in their head like Thad Jones did; every nuance of every instrument, every melody, every dynamic and shade of color played out vividly in his incredibly fertile mind, and the newly-discovered Jazz Lines Publications charts are more examples of this. They also show his singular ability to write music for others, which clearly reflected the style and sound of the artists he worked for, yet firmly reflected Thad's own very unique musical footprint as well. When one attends a jazz con- cert and hears a band playing a collection of songs by a group of jazz's greatest arrangers, Thad's still stand out. The professionalism is one thing, but what really sears the Thad Jones trademark in one's ears is the depth of his art: the charts exude what Dr. David Demsey, Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Curator of the Thad Jones Archive at William Paterson University and pictured here with Rob DuBoff holding a copy of one of Thad's original charts, has so ideally termed “a rhythmic adeptness and an ingenious thematic coherence.” His arrangements are full of life, often very complex, yet retain a playful exuberance that makes them so memorable and enjoyable to hear, to learn, and to play. They contain intricacies which are appreciated by the very best players yet at the same time have such harmonic richness and bluesy warmth that even the most casual listener can truly love them as well.

Harry James, one of the leading trumpeters of the Swing Era, was a huge fan of the sound and style of the 1950s Count Basie Orches- tra. James hired several of Basie's arrangers to write arrangements for him in the early 1960s, including Neal Hefti, Ernie Wilkins, and Thad Jones. Many of Thad's contributions were recorded by James, including charts that made up the the entire 1964 record New Ver- sions of Down Beat Favorites, two charts on Our Leader! and still more in the 1970s. However, several of these were never recorded or available-until now; they remained a part of Harry James's library and were discovered in his archives. Highlights include totally differ- ent versions of familiar Jones classics Three and One and Tip Toe. These charts beautifully illustrate how Thad had such a unique talent for writing within the established style of others' bands, while still managing to instill his own musicality in each piece. These have never been published previously, and along with enlarging the existing Jones canon, they will also give the world yet another window via which to view the mastery of this giant of arranging.