Jay Thomas

360 Degrees

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Seattle's Jay Thomas is yet another fine player from the fertile Northwest jazz scene. He has decided to take on the daunting task of multi-instrumentalist, playing brass and reed instruments, following in the footsteps of Benny Carter and Ira Sullivan. The tunes selected for this session, and their arrangements, are crafted not only to highlight Thomas' instrumental virtuosity, but to show he is also at ease in a variety of jazz styles. His facility with the soprano sax is shown on Charlie Parker's infrequently played "Cheryl." On trumpet, Thomas combines lyricism with bop on Kenny Dorham's "A Waltz." There's excellent ensemble work on "Wing Span" and "Blues for McVouty," revealing Thomas' West Coast music roots. These cuts are reminiscent of the style of any number of groups prominent on the coast during the '50s and '60s. Jimmy Rowles' "Peacocks" is given a lofty, haunting reading by Thomas' flute. Thomas' approach to this tune is much different than that taken by Rowles and Stan Getz on their 1975 collaboration. The liner notes credit a Thomas vocal on this cut, but there's no vocal by anybody. Post-bop is represented by the arrangement of "Whims of Chambers," where Thomas switches to fl├╝gelhorn, followed by chamber group jazz on "My Ideal." The blues get a workout on Thomas' own "Blues for McVouty." Thomas suffers from a reed problem on "All Too Soon," but not enough to detract from some fine baritone sax work by Denny Goodhew. The supporting cast of players ranges from very good to excellent. The unusually large cast of characters on a small group disc is explained by the fact that the album compiles three sessions recorded from 1990 to 1994.

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