Thad Jones

thad-jones-during-the-magnificent-thad-jones-session-3Thaddeus Joseph Jones was born in Pontiac, MI on March 28, 1923. He was the younger brother of pianist Hank Jones and older brother of drummer Elvin Jones. There were seven Jones children in all, and both parents were musical. An uncle gave him a trumpet, and he taught himself to play it. He does not fall into any of the easy classifications in jazz history. Jones is difficult to pigeonhole partly because of his varied activities—he played the trumpet (and cornet and flugelhorn), wrote arrangements and original music, and was the co-founder and co-leader of one of New York’s most influential bands in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Thad Jones - Episode 1

Thad Jones's early career gained momentum rapidly in Detroit's fertile jazz scene. He played with his brother Elvin in a house band at the Blue Bird Inn from 1952 to 1954, sat in with top Detroit jazz players such as pianist Tommy Flanagan, and also led a quintet of his own. Jones impressed nationally famous jazz artists who came through town, such as bassist Charles Mingus. In 1954 he joined the Count Basie Orchestra and remained with Basie until 1963. He also contributed a number of outstanding arrangements to the Basie library. He was influenced by a number of great trumpet players including Dizzy Gillespie, Sweets Edison, and Clark Terry. The recordings on this podcast will feature excerpts from those trumpet players and Thad’s 1st recordings from the mid 1950’s, many with bassist Charles Mingus.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
April in ParisCount BasieApril in Paris1955
Salt PeanutsDizzy Gillespie Sextet1945
Hollering at WatkinsHarry Edison/Ben WebsterSweets: Edison and his Orchestra1956
Mack the KnifeClark Terry/Oscar PetersonOscar Peterson Trio Plus One1964
What is This Thing…Thad Jones/Charles MingusJazzical Moods, Vol. 11954
Get Out of TownThad JonesThe Fabulous Thad Jones1955
I Can’t Get StartedThad JonesThe Fabulous Thad Jones1955
ZecThad JonesDetroit-New York Junction1956

Thad Jones - Episode 2

On this podcast I will highlight a number of his important small group recordings from the 2nd half of the 1950’s including a number of his original compositions. His style of melodic writing takes many unexpected turns and can be quite angular at times. His take on rhythm is also unpredictable--- which foreshadows his later big band compositions/arrangements written for his Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
April in ParisThad JonesThe Magnificent Thad Jones1956
Let’sThad JonesThe Magnificent Thad Jones1956
TiptoeThad Jones All-StarsMinor Strain1960
Like Old TimesThad JonesMotor City Scene1959
I Mean YouThad Jones/Thelonious MonkFive by Monk by Five1959

Thad Jones - Episode 3

By the latter part of the 1950’s Thad began to contribute arrangements to the Count Basie library. His big break came with the recording of the album, Chairman of the Board, in 1958 where Thad wrote four outstanding arrangements for Basie’s recording session. Thad writes strong melodies and has the saxes doubling on flutes to add great color and texture. His method of voicing for the saxophone section was also unique and a bit unusual for the Basie band of the late 1950’s. While these arrangements were well suited to the Basie Orchestra, there are many Thad Jones trademark devices used. His arrangement of his composition “To You,” is one of the most beautiful in all big band writing.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Her Royal HighnessCount Basie OrchestraChairman of the Board1958
April in ParisThad Jones/Count BasieApril in Paris1955
Corner PocketThad Jones/Count BasieApril in Paris1955
Speaking of SoundsCount Basie OrchestraChairman of the Board1958
The DeaconCount Basie OrchestraChairman of the Board1958
To YouCount Basie and Duke EllingtonRoulette Live Recordings1961
Mutt and JeffCount Basie OrchestraChairman of the Board1958

Thad Jones - Episode 4

When Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis formed their big band 1965, neither musician could predict the great impact that the group would have on big band jazz. It started out as what is referred to as a rehearsal band comprised of the best studio and jazz musicians in New York. There was a great cross section of young, and older more experienced musicians, in the band. The group played every Monday night at the Village Vanguard in New York City. The band quickly developed a reputation as one of the best in the world featuring arrangements by not only Thad Jones, but other band members as well. All of the recordings from this podcast were recorded by the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra live or in a studio between 1966 and 1970. These arrangements were published and bands are still performing them today almost 50 years later. They remain as fresh and challenging as they did back in the 1960’s. One of the challenges with this discography is that many of the recordings have been re-issued dozens of times under different album titles.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Mean What You SayThad JonesComplete Solid State Vol.11966
Three and OneThad JonesPresenting the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra1966
A Child is BornThad JonesDedication1970
Tip ToeThad JonesDedication1970
Little PixieThad JonesVillage Vanguard Live Sessions1967
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