Jazz Unlimited for July 24, 2016 will be “Mel Lewis and Big Bands.” Tonight’s show is an all big band presentation of the great drummer Mel Lewis in his element. Lewis was born in Buffalo in 1929 to immigrant parents. He came to the West Coast with Stan Kenton in 1957 and stayed until 1963, when he moved to New York. His drumming style was supportive of a band, rather than pushing it. In 1965, Lewis and Thad Jones founded the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, one of the greatest big bands in jazz history. The band played Monday nights at the Village Vanguard and toured all over he world. When Thad Jones moved to Europe in 1978, Lewis continues on as leader of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra until his death in 1990. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra continues today. This show will feature Mel Lewis with the following big bands: the Buck Clayton Orchestra, the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, the Benny Carter Orchestra, the American Jazz Orchestra, the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, the Terry Gibbs Dream Band, the Loren Schoenberg Big Band, the Woody Herman Herd, the Jay McShann Paris All-Star Blues Band, the Bill Holman Band, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Art Pepper + 11, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra along with vocalists Ruth Brown and Joe Williams.
The Slide Show has my photographs of some of the musicians heard on this show.
This is a 1969 video of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra playing Jerome Richardson's "The Groove Merchant with Jerry Dodgion (as) Jerome Richardson (as) Eddie Daniels, Joe Henderson (ts) Pepper Adams (bar) Sir Roland Hanna (p) Richard Davis (b) Mel Lewis (d)