Guitar Groove: RENE THOMAS
J. R. Monterose (ts) Rene Thomas (g) Hod O’Brien (p) Teddy Kotick (b) Albert Heath (drs)
Recorded in New York; September 7 & 8, 1960
Spontaneous Effort (5:18) (J. R. Monterose)
Ruby, My Dear (4:45) (Thelonious Monk)
Like someone in Love (5:50) (*) (Burke – Van Heusen)
M.T.C. (4:23) (J.R. Monterose)
Milestones (5:48) (Miles Davis)
How Long Has This Been Going On?(5:58) (#) (Gershwin)
Green Street Scene (7:35) (J. R. Monterose)
(* no tenor on this selection) (# no tenor or piano)
About This NEW Jazz Recording –
Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt are, without doubt, the two greatest names in the history of jazz guitar. The melodic richens of the Belgian gypsy and the revolutionary single-string style of the Oklahoma Negro may appear to have been miles apart, but it so often happens that strikingly dissimilar influences can be utilized to good effect by the same musician – particularly if he is strong enough not to be buried under the influences, but can instead fuse them together with his own talents and originality to produce his own music.
Such would seem to be the case with the remarkable guitarist who makes his American record debut here. A Belgian himself, RENE THOMAS was given early encouragement by Django. They became close friends, and Rene sought at first to play exactly like Reinhardt. But after his initial exposure to American jazz (through members of the band with which he played at Army special services shows I 1945), Thomas soon developed the deep affection for the music of Christian that is evident in the story told on the front cover of this album. Actually, his indoctrination into the Christian ‘school’ came mainly through American guitarists Jimmy Raney and Jimmy Gourley, whom he met while working in Paris between 1949 and 1951.
In Paris he played mostly with tenorman Bobby Jaspar – who was actually the first to tell us about Rene, when the guitarist first came to this country a couple of years ago and began a string of sitting-in that left such top stars as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Zoot Sims confirmed Rene Thomas fans. He worked briefly with Rollins, then located in Montreal, where he has built a considerable local following.
During 1960 he worked frequently with J. R. Monterose, and association that has grown steadily closer. Excited by the way in which they fit together, these two have begun to develop such unique concepts as the free-flowing tow-way improvisation of the album’s opening track, Spontaneous Effort. Monterose is a young veteran of the New York scene: born, like Rene, in 1927, he has been with such as Charlie Mingus, Teddy Charles and Kenny Dorham. Judging from this LP, he seems to thrive on the musical relationship with Thomas, his aggressive tenor style melding most intriguingly with the patterns of the fleet guitarist.
Thomas calls Monterose “my musical director,” and three of the seven tunes here are JR’s (the opener; M.T.C., and the loping blues called Green Street Scene in honor of the section of Albany, N.Y., where the tenor has most recently been working). In addition, there are two modern jazz classics: a rich treatment of the Thelonious Monk ballad, Ruby, My Dear, and a driving version of Miles Davis’ Milestones. On the two standards, Thomas takes over the full spotlight, swinging with just the rhythm section o Like Someone in Love, and working with only bass and drums on a deeply melodic approach to How Long Has This Been Going On? that is clearly a tribute to the importance of Django in Rene’s life.
Recent JAZZLAND releases include:
Out of This World – Walter Benton, with Wynton Kelly – JLP 28 & Stereo 928S
West Coast Blues – Harold Land, with Wes Montgomery – JLP 20 & Stereo 920S
Takin’ Care of Business – Charlie Rouse, with Blue Mitchell JLP19 & Stereo 919S
Girl Here Plays Mean Piano – Joyce Collins Trio – JLP24 & Stereo 924S
Bombastica! – Johnny Lytle Trio – JLP 22 & Stereo 922S
The Fourth Herd – Woody Herman Orchestra, with Nat Adderley JLP 17 & Stereo 917S
Chet Baker with 50 Italian Strings – JLP 21 & Stereo 921S
Spiritsville – Julian Priester, with Walter Benton – JLP 25 & Stereo 925S
Blue Jubilee – Joe Alexander, with Bobby Timmons – JLP 23 & Stereo 923S
Organ-izing – Mel Rhyne, organ, with Blue Mitchell, Johnny Griffin – JLP 16 & Stereo 916S
This album produced and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Recorded at Nola Penthouse Studios
AZZLAND RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street, New York 36, New York