Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, once a group of studio musicians but now a unit that works full time, put on a sterling display of big-band stylings Sunday at Blues Alley.
Kicking off Sunday night series at the club, the 18-man orchestra, one of the top jazz groups playing today, offered a magnificent array of jazz standards and originals. Sunday's first set included an arrangement of Marian McPartland's "Amblence," a swirling tonal portrait featuring flutist Jerry Dodgin, who played duo with bassist Chip Jackson in a series of cascading melodic patterns.
The Jones-Lewis Orchestra, a fixture at the Village Vanguard in New York on Monday nights since the mid '60, has always been characterized by solid ensemble work - and Sunday's performance was no exception, particularly in the excellent saxaphone section work on the fanciful "Tiptoe."
Despite having a regular base in New York, the band has experience frequent personnel turnovers. But this has given younger players a chance to perform. One of those getting the opportunity Sunday was trombonist Clifford Harries, who delivered an especially well-constructed solon on an arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "The Intimacy of the Blues." Also interesting was Billy Campbell's peppery trombone work on "Kids Are Pretty People." He was technically sure and melodically fluid.
Closing out the first set was an exquisite quartet version of "Body and Soul," featuring the sensitive coronet of Jones, accompanied by Lewis, bassist Jones and pianist Harold Danko.
John Dimitriou, the club's booking agent, said plans to bring in top-name acts every Sunday and changed. Instead, local groups will perform, starting with Tim Everman next Sunday. However, the Jones-Lewis group is expected to appear once a month.