Album Review of
Mad Thad & Olio

Written by Mark Gallo
January 11, 2018 - 12:00am EST
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Some reissues are a treat. Some not. This double album on one disc is a major treat. Both Mad Thad and Olio were released in 1957 originally. When Thad joined the Basie big band in 1954, which he would eventually lead, his star was on the ascendant.

On the “Mad Thad” half of the program he is joined by tenors Frank Foster and Frank Wess on separate dates, along with Jimmy Jones and Tommy Flanagan, Jo Jones and Elvin Jones on drums, along with others. The tunes are familiar and obscure. All performances are stellar.  “Bird Song,” is aptly titled, sounding like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in their prime. Thad’s lines are seamless and sparkling. The Quincy Jones-penned title cut features Foster intertwined with Thad’s blistering work. The band does a gorgeous job on Benny Golson’s “Whisper not, as well.

On the Olio program, he is joined by Frank Wess (tenor and flute), Teddy Charles (vibes), Mal Waldron (piano), Doug Watkins (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums. The program is slightly more nuanced than the Mad Thad portion. The highlight here is “Dakar,” the Teddy Charles composition with the tender playing by all involved. This Australian import is a contender for jazz reissue of the year.