Reference: BMCD 853
Bar code: 8427328008532
JONAH JONES MASTERWORKS
The Capitol Years
· Collectors Edition
· Issued in Digipack
· 2 LPs on 1 CD
· Original Cover Art and Liner Notes
· Hi-Fi and Stereo Recordings
· Newly Remastered
Jonah Jones zoomed to popularity in the late 50s. He found a successful formula and used it to brighten the hit charts with a succession of bouncy albums on Capitol Records. His quartet was one of the three newcomers in the Top 10 wide variety of small groups listed in the favorite Instrumental Billboard lists in 1958.
The Jonah Jones Quartet really sounds at home with Meredith Willsons great music from the hit show The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and they prove themselves once again, with every note a high-proof delight to hear.
On Jazz Bonus, Jones glistening trumpet gets a great new setting buoyed by an excellent rhythm section with twin guitars and a seemingly jet-propelled electronic organ. The rich and swinging tonal blend these instruments create is fabulous to hear.
-The Unsinkable Molly Brown
"This LP is better than it appears at first glance. None of the 11 songs (all taken from the Broadway show and future movie The Unsinkable Molly Brown) are the slightest bit familiar. Since trumpeter Jonah Jones had hit upon a very successful formula playing "muted jazz" with his quartet (which also includes pianist Teddy Brannon, bassist John Brown and drummer George Foster), one might expect this to be a weak commercial effort. But Jones sounds pretty inspired on the fresh material, even quoting from Louis Armstrong during part of his solo on "Belly Up to the Bar, Boys"; the quartet avoids clichés, and in fact the trumpeter plays all of the songs without a mute. A stronger than expected release despite the forgettable material, this out-of-print album is worth picking up at a used record store."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
"Jonah Jones was one of the great swing-era trumpeters, blessed with formidable chops. After his early riverboat days he worked with, among others, Jimmy Lunceford, Stuff Smith, Lil Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Earl Hines. By the mid-50s his quartet and showmanship was packing them in at Manhattan's prestigious Embers Club. His first album for Capitol, Muted Jazz, sold over a million copies. A string of popular quartet albums followed, many included on this Masterworks collection of seven CDs, each of which is available separately. The set spans 1957-62, with two LPs to each CD.
Selling like the proverbial hot cakes, the albums made Jonah one of the most commercially successful jazz artists ever. He had perfected a formulaic approach and style which appealed greatly to the pre-Beatles American popular music market of the day, applying a catchily swinging and readily listenable jazz interpretation to popular songs, often from films and shows. The tracks are kept brief (usually around two minutes ), and are colourfully arranged. The melody is always clearly stated, followed by spirited improvisation in Jonah's unique perky style, or perhaps an engaging vocal. The albums were intended for dancing as well as listening and the excellent rhythm backing swings tightly, with fine brushwork from Harold Austin, often using the shuffle-beat rhythm favoured by Louis Prima.
There are many great standards and good, workable tunes amongst the 128 titles presented here, but Jonah was also saddled with some trite, sentimental, or downright corny dross. The likes of True Love, Three Coins In The Fountain, High Hopes, Ramblin' Rose, Colonel Bogey, The Sound Of Music and Seventy-Six Trombones are hardly ideal for swinging jazz treatment! Yet Jonah met the challenge head on with undiminished perkiness, reducing the sugar and corn content by changing tempo and phrasing, with innate swinging artistry.
Armstrong's fundamental influence is evident in the fat warm tone of his open horn, and his affable vocals. His feisty and predominantly muted style, creative and crisply punchy, incorporates glisses, downward smears and half valving reminiscent at times of Rex Stewart and Red Allen, punctuated with Eldridge-like high register shrieks, or Shavers-style virtuosity as in a storming Undecided.
Later albums tampered with his basic quartet formula, as time moved relentlessly on. A vocal quartet gave wordless backing riffs, fills and harmonies in A Touch Of Blue, quite effective in places, but in general cluttering rather than enhancing. On the final CD, a complete change of sound is offered with Jonah's rhythm section replaced by Glen Gray's Casa Loma Orchestra. The excellent big band arrangements are by the great Benny Carter, and the whole set swings most enjoyably, with Jonah re-interpreting famous trumpet solos from Armstrong, Eldridge, Berigan, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, Harry James and others (though not Bix, oddly enough). With the record producers now clearly looking for a change, the final LP (That Righteous Feeling) is an odd mix of tunes, loosely gospel, with a different personnel, and no match for the earlier albums.
These acclaimed and generally very enjoyable performances (though not all perhaps quite masterworks) extended the popularity and market for jazz way beyond the normal frontiers and confirmed Jonah's deserved status as one of the greatest swing trumpeters. For choice, try Muted Jazz (Blue Moon 845)."
-Hugh Rainey (Jazz Journal, October 2015)
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