Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra – Central Park North (Full Album)

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Central Park North is a 1969 big band jazz album recorded by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and released on the Solid State Records label. The album was nominated for a 1969 Grammy award in the “Best Instrumental Jazz Performance – Large Group…” category. All tracks are also included on Mosaic’s limited edition boxed set, The Complete Solid State Recordings of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.

AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. :
One doesn’t automatically think of big bands when remembering late-’60s jazz, though big bands like the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra continued to make stimulating recordings. Central Park North, recorded and released in 1969, testifies that one could be a big band and progressive at the same time. Flügelhornist Jones and percussionist Lewis are joined by a large cast of players, including tenor Joe Farrell, trombonist Jimmy Knepper, and pianist Roland Hanna. The music runs the gauntlet from funky soul-jazz to more gentle traditional work, sometimes within the same piece. Jones’ “Tow Away Zone” begins like a rather typical late-’60s composition (horns and organ with a soulful groove), but as the individual players cut loose with excellent solo work — built within a multi-layered arrangement — the piece takes on a character of its own. “Quietude” moves in the opposite direction, living up to its title by keeping things low-key, while “Jazz Samba” is a nine-minute romp with some great piccolo work. The swinging “Big Dipper” and ambitious title cut bring Central Park North to a satisfying close. The album, at 37 minutes, will seem a bit short by post-millennium standards, but the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra makes every minute count. The 2004 reissue will be a welcomed by fans of adventurous big band music.

Track listing:
All songs arranged by Thad Jones. All songs composed by Thad Jones except where indicated.

LP side A:

“Tow Away Zone” – 4:25
“Quietude” – 4:03
“Jive Samba” (N. Adderley) – 8:50

LP side B:

“The Groove Merchant” (Richardson) – 5:04
“Big Dipper” – 5:52
“Central Park North” – 9:14

Thad Jones – flugelhorn
Mel Lewis – drums
Roland Hanna – piano
Richard Davis – bass
Barry Galbraith – guitar
Sam Brown – guitar
Jerome Richardson – alto saxophone
Jerry Dodgion – alto saxophone
Joe Farrell – tenor saxophone
Eddie Daniels – tenor saxophone
Joe Temperley – baritone saxophone
Snooky Young – trumpet
Richard Williams – trumpet
Danny Moore – trumpet
Jimmy Nottingham – trumpet
Jimmy Knepper – trombone
Benny Powell – trombone
Eddie Bert – trombone
Cliff Heather – trombone

Released: 1969
Recorded: 1969 June 17, 18, A&R Studios, New York City
Length: 37:28
Label: Solid State
Producer: Sonny Lester