Bart Van Lier

One LP: Presenting Joe Williams and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis: the Jazz Orchestra

Bart Van Lier

This is an album from a big band which started around 1966. A famous drummer and a famous trumpet player, who arranges and composes, got together: Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.

They had this dream to make this band together, and it was swinging like hell every Monday night in the Village Vanguard. For me, they’re special because they came out of the Ellington tradition – like this is completely new. Still when I hear it I think its tops. They made many records with the band and one with a couple of singers. One of the singers was Joe Williams, who actually gave a boost to the popularity of the Count Basie Band in 1955 with the tune I’ve got the Blues.

This recording is about four years later, after the period with Count Basie, and everything seems to fit. There are some very special people in the band who got famous later on – such as saxophone player Eddie Daniels – and the playing is superb. Everything on this record is natural, not forced, and it feels like it came together at the right time.  

When I’m in a moody situation and I don’t have much power in my brain for happiness, I put this record on and it’s back!