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The Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Orchestra

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Biography

Near the end of 1965, harmonically advanced trumpeter/cornetist Thad Jones organized a big band with drummer Mel Lewis that from February 1966 onward played Monday nights at the Village Vanguard. During the next decade, the orchestra (although always a part-time affair) became famous and gave Jones an outlet for his writing. He composed one standard ("A Child Is Born") along with many fine pieces, including "Fingers," "Little Pixie," and "Tiptoe." Among the sidemen in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (which started out as an all-star group and later on featured younger players) were trumpeters Bill Berry, Danny Stiles, Richard Williams, Marvin Stamm, Snooky Young, and Jon Faddis, trombonists Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Knepper, and Quentin Jackson, the reeds of Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion, Eddie Daniels, Joe Farrell, Pepper Adams, and Billy Harper, pianists Hank Jones and Roland Hanna, and bassists Richard Davis and George Mraz. In 1978, Jones surprised Lewis by suddenly leaving the band and moving to Denmark, an action he never explained. He wrote for a radio orchestra and led his own group, called Eclipse. In late 1984, Jones took over the leadership of the Count Basie Orchestra but within a year, bad health forced him to retire. ~ Scott Yanow