Thad Jones made such a strong impact in his career as an arranger-composer and a big band leader that it is sometimes forgotten just how great and distinctive a trumpet player he was. After emerging from the Detroit jazz scene, Jones was a member of Count Basie's orchestra during 1954-63. However Jones was always a much more advanced player than was needed in Basie's band and he really emerged as an innovative improviser during his own sessions. The Magnificent Thad Jones, recorded in 1956, more than lives up to its name. Heading an all-star group that includes pianist Barry Harris (who was making his recording debut), Jones is superb throughout. He reprises and extends his famous solo on "April In Paris" (creating a very haunting rendition), his heated choruses on "If I Love Again" are driven by Max Roach, he creates heartfelt (and sometimes heartbreaking) statements on ballads, and digs into the lengthy "Thedia." At no point during this memorable set does Thad Jones sound like anyone but himself, and he creates music for the ages on what is arguably the most lyrical of all Blue Note recordings.