Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

The Big Band Sounds of Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Featuring Miss Ruth Brown

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It was a great, even inspired idea to pair diva Ruth Brown with the Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Orchestra. Although the solid results speak for themselves, the listener is left with a distinct sense that more might have happened. As it is, these studio sessions showcase the vocalist to reasonably good effect, belting out several numbers with which she was intimately familiar. Whether the big band sound (with its loud brass) overwhelms Brown's voice is open to conjecture, but what isn't at issue are the fine, tight arrangements performed by a group of seasoned veterans, some of the best in the field. Jazz enthusiasts might have wished for more (or longer) solos, but the essential style and straight-ahead quality of the band are never compromised. Brown gives powerful renditions of well-known tunes such as "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town," and others. While this short reissue does not add any bonus tracks to the original LP, the economical writing and excellent performances are ample compensation. Highlights include short improvisations by Thad Jones on flugelhorn, Pepper Adams on bari sax, and Eddie Daniels on tenor. Brown fans should be pleased, as she booms forth soul and blues in her own characteristic way.