Weekend Listening Tip: SRJO’s Music Of Thad Jones

Leo's Thad & Mel Cover

The attention-getting device above is one of the late Leo Meiersdorff’s album covers for the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. If we have your attention, here’s an announcement from Jim Wilke’s Jazz Northwest about next Sunday’s broadcast:


Thad Jones played trumpet with the Basie Band and he brought the jazz orchestra into the modern age with his unique compositions and arrangements for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra at The Village Vanguard. The current incarnation of that orchestra plays every Monday night at the hallowed New York club as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, 47 years after it began. The music of Thad Jones still feels current and is played by jazz orchestras around the world, including The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra which featured Thad Jones’ music in two sold out concerts last weekend.

Highlights from one of those concerts will air on Jazz Northwest Sunday, March 10 on 88.5, KPLU. Air time is 2pm PST. For web streaming, click on http://kplu.org, then on “Listen Live.” The concert was recorded at The Kirkland Performance Center. Included are several selections that have become jazz standards, “Three in One,” “A Child is Born,” “To You” and “Low Down.” Among the many soloists in this concert are two who performed with Thad Jones or the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bill Ramsay and Mark Taylor.

In case you have forgotten how the Jones-Lewis band sounded and looked, click on the little arrow on the screen below. From the costumery, you might think that this was the 1970s.

Soprano saxophone solo: Jerry Dodgion. Baritone saxophone solo: Pepper Adams. Composer, conductor:Thad Jones.

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  1. Charlton Price says

    The special charm and structural strength of this orchestra come in the combination of the personal-signature sounds of the players, and the acoustics of the Vanguard. room. Producing the former: the co-leaders of course, and such other incomparable players as Bob Brookmeyer, Roland Hanna, Pepper Adams, Richard Davis, Jerome Richardson.. That persists today , thanks to the charts still in the band’s book — by Thad, Brookmeyer, Jim McNeely, and others, all contemporary, vivid . For the latter, the pie-slice shape of the Vanguard’s cellar, with the band at the tip of the slice and the bar at the fat end, the extreme rear — and ,hey, no clinking glass while the band is playing! The shape of the room produces a “surround sound” effect, even without multi-tracking technology. You sense this in the exceptional live LP/vinyl recordings from the band’s first decades, such as “Monday Night,” and ” New Life: Tribute to Max Gordon” (who was the Vanguard’s owner and the band’s sponsor/curator..)