Monday, October 25, 2010

The great Thad Jones

As much as I love the contemporary big band writing of Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Bob Brookmeyer and others, I think I'd still have to say that Thad Jones is my favorite big band writer of all time.  In my opinion, no one's arrangements swing harder, and the music consistently exudes joy and playfulness.

Because I spend a great deal of time standing in front of big bands, I couldn't help but wonder how Thad conducted.  To what degree did he wave his hands?  Did he use a typical conducting pattern?  Did he count off the band and then retreat to the side of the stage?  How much did he control the band's dynamics through his gestures?  You Tube has answered more questions for me as of late than any other resource.

Here is the Thad-Jones / Mel Lewis band playing "Groove Merchant", probably in 1969. (A year before I was born.)  The roster is as follows:

The reed section: Joe Henderson, Jerry Dodgion, Jerome Richardson, Eddie Daniels, Pepper Adams.
Trumpets: Snooky Young, Danny Moore, Al Porcino, Richard Williams.
Trombones: Eddie Bert, Astley Fennell, Jimmy Knepper, Cliff Heather.
Rhythm: Mel Lewis, drums; Roland Hanna, piano; Richard Davis, bass.
Conductor: Thad Jones.


  1. Amazing stuff. I could listen to this all day.

  2. Another video of Groove Merchant at same time period for jazz junkies. All bassists should transcribe that solo.


There was an error in this gadget