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The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra recorded this two-CD set during an eight-night stand, celebrating 42 years of Monday night gigs at the storied club. It’s dedicated to Dennis Irwin, their longtime bassist, who died of cancer a month later. (He does not appear on the album; Phil Palombi does.) Much of the music goes back to the mid-’60s, when the band was formed and the main writers were Jones and Bob Brookmeyer. It is a most worthy document, given the band’s longevity, everlasting hipness, respect and home base.

If you compare these performances with the same tunes from the Mosaic boxed set of the Jones-Lewis band’s first recordings, you’ll notice different ensemble nuances and, obviously, different soloists. But there is continuity in the way the ensemble breathes and phrases together, the way drummer John Riley swings, accents and sets up the ensemble passages akin to Lewis and the way the dynamics of the horn sections balance. You can almost see Jones out front directing.

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