One Monday night at the Village Vanguard, many years ago, during the third set in front of a packed house so quiet you could hear the proverbial pin drop, Roland Hanna began one of his long ostinato vamps, then slowly wandered his way into a solo selection of his choice. As he played on, intently listening band members were trying to figure out what tune he was playing. Jerry Dodgion nudged Jerome Richardson and whispered, “What is this?” Jerome looked up at the ceiling, listened some more, and finally shrugged. They both looked quizzically at Thad. Thad always knew what tune Roland was playing, no matter how far afield the improvisation. But not that night. That night Roland’s rendition of Body and Soul stumped them all. When the applause finally died down, Thad asked Roland to name that tune, and Roland was actually perturbed that they didn’t get it.
This story from the lore of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra was told to me a few nights ago by saxophonist Jerry Dodgion, and I should have mentioned Dodgion’s web site when I was pointing out musician sites the other day. Jerry’s leading a group called “The Joy of Sax” (five saxophones and rhythm section) and their first CD is Jerry Dodgion and the Joy of Sax featuring Frank Wess (LSM 101). It can be purchased though CD Baby, where you can also hear a few clips.