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Talking Jazz:

Mel Lewis interview, 1987

Mel Lewis and Thad Jones
Page added Jul 27, 2015 Updated Aug 1, 2015

Big band leader and drummer Mel Lewis in conversation, discussing the demise of the swing era and the incarnation of the Vanguard Orchestra.

As we'll hear in this interview, the duo of drummer Mel Lewis and trumpeter Thad Jones almost singled-handily kept the big band alive following the demise of the swing era in the 40s. In recounting a conversation Lewis had with the great Count Basie, Mel notes how Basie implored Mel and Thad Jones to "Keep it going." "And we did," replied Lewis.

Their band was known as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra until Jones relocated to Europe in 1978. Following that, the Mel Lewis continued with the group, who held down a regular Monday night gig at the Village Vanguard in New York. Even after his death in 1990, the band continued their residency under the name of 'The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra,' and they still continue to perform as the house band at the iconic venue.

Tracks in this feature

1. 'Soft Lights and Sweet Music' - Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra
Album: Soft Lights, Hot Music

2. 'Margie' - Earl Hines + Cozy Cole
Album: Earl's Backroom and Cozy's Caravan

3. 'Don't Git Sassy' - Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra
Album: Village Vanguard Live Sessions

4. 'Tell Me When' - Ben Webster (with Mel Lewis)
Album: Gerry Mulligan meets Ben Webster

5. '(Our) Love Is Here To Stay' - Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra
Album: Soft Lights and Hot Music

CD: Talking Jazz (Nardis NMX 24)
Image: inconstantsol Blog
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Jul 31, 2015. 2:00pm - 3:00pm

More episodes of Talking Jazz


On Aug 3, 2015. 9:26am
ABC Jazz said

Thanks for listening! =)

On Jul 31, 2015. 3:10pm
Anonymous said

great show, learned so much, wonderful personality and oh, the drums: what a drummer! thanx jazz for the show!

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