Vance Thompson’s Five Plus Six – Such Sweet Thunder

Reimagining the music of jazz giants Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and country legend Dolly Parton is the goal of Vance Thompson’s Five Plus Six. The ensemble delivers fresh arrangements of those compositions on Such Sweet Thunder (Shade Street Records, 2015).

The Five are a quintet that had been working steadily for more than a year under the name of The Marble City Five. The group consists of Thompson, trumpet and flugelhorn; Greg Tardy, tenor sax and bass clarinet; Keith Brown, piano and Fender Rhodes; Taylor Coker, bass; and Nolan Nevels, drums. As Thompson began thinking about recording the group, the idea of expanding the sound to include a fuller horn section emerged. The Six are Michael Wyatt and Joe Jordan, trumpet; Tylar Bullion, trombone; Sean Copeland, tenor and bass trombone; Jamel Mitchell, alto and soprano saxophone; and David King, baritone and soprano saxophone.

The set begins with Monk’s “Pannonica.” The horns lead in grand fashion, then step aside as Mitchell, Tardy King take turns on alto, tenor and baritone, respectively. Throughout, the rhythm trio of Brown, Coker and Nevels keep things tight. Brown and Thompson also get to stretch out. After the solos, the saxophones blend for a delightful romp. The song downshifts for a bit as the other horns take point again. Then it revs up for the finale. It’s a satisfying tribute to Monk.

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