ARTIST: The Great
Hank Jones - piano
Ron Carter - bass
Tony Williams - drums
Recorded at Avatar Studio, New York on May 12 and 13, 2002
Produced by Yasohachi “88” Itoh
Assistant Producer : Kyoko Aikawa
Recording Engineer : Yoshihiro Suzuki
Assistant Engineers :
Peter Doris, Ricardo Fernandez, Brian Montgomery
and Yasuhide Hatagoshi
Mastering Engineer : Koji “C-chan” Suzuki / Sony Music Studios Tokyo
Coordinators : Kiyoko Murata and Akira Tanaka / Sound Wing Limited
In the ‘70s, Yasohachi “88” Itoh produced an album entitled The Great Jazz Trio, which was recorded live at the Village Vanguard in New York City. It featured Hank Jones (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums). Since then, there have been a few incarnations of the Great Jazz Trio, with different players, but it is especially fitting to have Yasohachi Itoh once again produce a version for the 21st Century, equal in quality to the original. The result is Autumn Leaves. In bringing together an unexpected combination of players and feeding off the tension and thrill the situation it produces, a new album is created in the same spirit that produced the very first version. In addition, the new version brings together Hank and Elvin Jones, brothers who very rarely perform together, making this version truly historically significant.
The members of the new Great Jazz Trio are Hank Jones on piano, Richard Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. This is the first time these great musicians have performed together. Bringing together such luminaries was not as straightforward as one might think. Even though Hank and Elvin are brothers, the only recordings of them playing together are on Elvin’ (Riverside), Here’s Love (Cadet), and Upon Reflections – Music of Thad Jones (EmArcy). It has been 10 years since the Jones brothers last performed together. One of the reasons for this is that their musicality and style are very different. Initially Hank did not completely agree when he first learned who he was going to be playing with. However, it was “88” producing the album, the producer of the original. Mr. “88” Itoh kept reminding Hank what “unexpected tension and thrill” (from the combo) can ultimately create, and finally Hank relented. Even then, Hank was said to have hesitated before entering the studio the day of the recording. Now, at age 84, he was once again, stepping into the unknown. How much of his own music and style could he bring out playing with Elvin and Richard Davis? Fortunately, the answer is "a lot."
As can be seen from each profile, the combination of these three legendary players recording together is a monumental event. Hank has performed with such excellent drummers such as Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, and Billy Higgins. Pairing Hank with Elvin is, however, very special indeed.
The tracks recorded on this album are mostly well known standards. "Six and Four" on track 8 is an Oliver Nelson original composition, previously recorded in 1991, with Hank Jones on solo piano on the album, Live at Maybeck Recital Hall (Concord). “Autumn Leaves” portrays the fresh and strong piano playing by Hank Jones. Hank displays his lyrical style on the beautiful melodies from "Yesterdays," "Summertime," and "My Funny Valentine." Fresh ideas abound one after another on Nelson's "Six and Four," Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning" and Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa." There is no question that Hank was inspired by Richard Davis' and Elvin's playing. Elvin provides support that is sometimes powerful, sometimes sensitive. A great example of that is "Autumn Leaves" where the well-known standard gets a new treatment. Hank's unique interpretation on the piano comes wrapped in Elvin's envelope of cymbal sounds. The drum solo on "Take the 'A' Train" is pure Elvin. In "Summertime," he displays a fine sensitivity backing up the ballad. Richard Davis shines as well in "Rhythm-A-Ning" with his walking bass solo. The different techniques that he displays on "Bye Bye Blackbird" with the use of bow and pizzicato are impressive.
The makeup of The Great Jazz Trio may change, but the
jazz spirit it represents lives on in the
performances of these great, legendary players.
(click thumbnail for larger image)