Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Big Band, recorded live in Paris in September of 1969. Normally I don’t post concerts that have recently been re-broadcast because my backlog of archival things is big enough to keep going for a few years, but this concert was special and it knocked me out.
First off – if you haven’t discovered them, I would urge, plead, demand you get over to the France Musique radio site and bookmark it, coming back frequently if not daily. Radio France is one of the truly great broadcasting organizations in the world and their France Music streaming site is one of the reasons and the prototype for Past Daily’s music coverage. They are all over the map musically, but the constant and the unflinching criteria for what they broadcast is that it’s good; pure and simple – that it’s good music. Most of the time its sensational – even at their most mundane, it’s amazing. And the eclectic nature of what they play every day, as a routine is what enjoying and loving music is all about. Go there – drop everything – here’s their site address: Radio France Musique – no excuses.
Now, to the business at hand. When the concept of the traditional Big Band faded from mainstream popularity and went somewhat underground, it began a series of reinventions which made a potent and stimulating musical experience. No long the provider of dance music, you wouldn’t want to dance to this anyway, Big Bands, like this one of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, took it to new musical horizons. The genre took new ideas and expanded on them – made it a Ground Zero for innovation. Band leaders like Gil Evans took the form and reinvented it, bringing a whole new audience along for the ride.
This concert, recorded by Radio France on September 8, 1969 features a virtual who’s who of prominent names in Jazz during the 1960s. It was just re-broadcast over a two-night period on December 16 and 17, and so the announcements, lineup and numbers are announced in French – if you don’t understand French, don’t sweat it – you will know who is who and what is what without knowing a lick of anything but English.
This was a sensational show, stunningly recorded and featuring a band in top form. Almost two hours in length and with an audience who dug every second, it’s one of those moments you want to share with as many people as you can. So rather than run it five years from now, I felt compelled to run it this weekend.
So enjoy, crank it up and dive into it. And don’t forget to visit Radio France.