...as conversant as he is with all the jazz idioms going beyond John Coltrane, Jay Thomas improvises with the joyous élan of his vintage progenitors...I'm brought back to the pure jazz feeling of the jam sessions of my youth.
Having always found inspiration in the evocative recordings of Gil Evans and Miles Davis, and from the great balladeers - Dexter, Trane, Turrentine, Clifford Brown - veteran Seattle trumpeter/saxophonist Jay Thomas was always on the lookout for the right relationship with an arranger who could properly frame his vision for a recording of richly orchestrated ballads. Meeting the German composer/arranger/trumpeter Oliver Groenewald opened the door to several years of collaboration, culminating in this inspired collection of ten rarely-heard jazz classics and originals, and closing with the time-honored hits, "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "Stardust." Performed with the intention, clarity and sustained energy of a master melodist, I Always Knew was recorded in one room, with no separation, no headphones, and no overdubs, channeling the works of Thomas' musical mentors while further establishing his own position in the pantheon of essential jazz voices.
1. Yama 7:31 Lee Morgan
2. Ernie's Tune 4:13 Dexter Gordon
3. I Always Knew 4:27 Oliver Groenewald
4. Deep Passion 5:42 Lucky Thompson
5. Mrs. Goodnight 5:35 Groenewald
6. Ballad for the Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters 3:36 Billy Strayhorn
7. Born to be Blue 6:07 Mel Torme
8. Blue Serge 4:51 Duke Ellington
9. October Ballad 5:56 Chick Corea
10. Soultrane 6:49 Tadd Dameron
11. You Don't Know What Love Is 4:36 Gene DePaul
12. Stardust 3:32 Hoagy Carmichael
All music arranged by Oliver Groenewald, except (9), arr. by Curt Berg
Brad Allison - trumpet, flugelhorn
Oliver Groenewald - trumpet, flugelhorn
Jay Thomas - trumpet, flugelhorn, and alto, tenor and soprano saxophones
Dan Marcus - trombone, flugabone
Travis Ranney - alto saxophone, flute, clarinet
Pete Galio - tenor saxophone, flute
Greg Sinabaldi - baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Adam Kessler - drums
Michael Glynn - bass
John Hansen - [iano
Produced by Oliver Groenewald and Jay Thomas
Recorded by Jakael Tristam at Robert Lang Studios, Seattle, WA
Recorded on Jan 28th and 29th 2018
Mixed & mastered by Christoph Terbuyken, Düsseldorf
Studio photos by Janet Allison
Cover paintings by Becca Duran
Cover design & layout by John Bishop
Midwest Record (Chris Spector)
Thomas is a throwback to the extent that he is an admirer of the art of the arranger, he gives Groenwald equal billing and room to do whatever it takes to make the trumpeter look good. An obvious fan of jazz's great instrumental balladeers, this set takes it back to the day in spirit and delivers the goods in unequaled fashion. Real jazz for real ...
Rifftides (Doug Ramsey)
Thomas, a veteran master of brass and reed instruments, teams with Groenewald, the man he describes in his liner notes as "the perfect fit for me as an arranger." With a band that includes ten of the Pacific Northwest's major jazz artists, the two explore the possibilities in a dozen ballads from the past nine decades. In the five years or so that ...
All About Jazz (Paul Rauch)
4 1/2 STARS Jay Thomas has lived the jazz life. He has endured, overcome, and continued to artistically thrive through all the ruminations of a path chosen by few. While much of his life may form a parallel story to those of many, Thomas' version, his personal adjunct to its litany, is a story of artistic triumph that opened doors seldom walked th ...
Earshot Jazz (Tara Peters)
Like stones polished by the sea, some ideas take time to wash ashore. The thought of a ballads project had been riding the waves of Jay Thomas' brain for years. A melodic and introspective multi-instrumentalist, Thomas has always been drawn to the great balladeers of jazz. It wasn't until collaborating with fellow trumpeter and arranger, Oliver Gro ...
Jazz Weekly (George W. Harris)
Jay Thomas plays trumpet and flugelhorn as well as alto, tenor and soprano sax for tribute to blue pastels from masters ranging from Duke Ellington to Chick Corea. Fellow brass man Oliver Groenewald does most of the charts for the team that also boasts Brad Allison/tp-fh, Dan Marcus/tb, travis Ranney/as-fl-cl, Greg Sinabaldi/bs-bcl, John Hansen/p, ...
Audiophile Audition (Robbie Gerson)
5-STARS The history of jazz arrangement is prodigious. Musicians like Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Quincy Jones, Marty Paich, Stan Kenton, Terence Blanchard, Michel Legrand, Gerry Mulligan, Don Costa, Nelson Riddle, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw integrated larger ensembles successfully. A wide variety of instruments (often with multi ...