Jones, Thad(deus Joseph)

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Jones, Thad(deus Joseph)

Jones, Thad(deus Joseph), cornetist, flugel-hornist, composer, leader, brother of Hank Jones and Elvin Jones; b. Pontiac, Mich., March 28, 1923; d. Copenhagen, Aug. 20, 1986. He was one of the most admired composers of his era, and a striking soloist. His writing featured a cocky wit, highly sophisticated voicings involving lots of subtle dissonance, and unusual pairings such as bass and muted trumpet. Most of his charts were published by Kendor music and they have been performed and analyzed at colleges everywhere. As a brass player he was clearly a disciple of Gillespie, one of the few who captured his oblique way with harmony and brash swagger. Some consider him to be one of the most brilliant brass soloists.

He taught himself to play trumpet when he was about 13, and subsequently appeared professionally with his brother Hank at age 16, along with Sonny Stitt. After working with various dance and show bands, he joined his brother Elvin as a member of Billy Mitchell’s quintet in Detroit (1950–53). He worked with Charles Mingus (1954–55) and became well known as a featured soloist and arranger with Count Basie’s Orch. (1954–63); also appeared with Thelonious Monk during this time in big band and quintet settings. Between 1963 and 1965 he appeared with Monk in a big band concert (1964) and Gerry Mulligan, worked with CBS TV, and co-led a quintet with Pepper Adams and Mel Lewis. In 1965, with Lewis he formed a big band, which played every Monday night at the Village Vanguard when not on tour. It continues to this day as the Vanguard Jazz Orch., and which established a tradition of Monday night big bands at other N.Y. venues. It subsequently gained fame through its tours of the U.S. and Europe, including a smashing visit to the former Soviet Union in 1972. He left the band in 1979 and settled in Denmark, where he organized his own big band, the Thad Jones Eclipse; he was also active as an arranger and composer with Danish Radio. In a bar fight his lips were damaged by broken glass. He returned to the U.S. to briefly take charge of Count Basie’s Orch. in 1985. He worked until he was diagnosed with cancer around April 1986.


Thad Jones: Billy Mitchell Quintet (1953); Fabulous Thad Jones (1954); Lust for Life (1954); Thad Jones (1955); De-troit-N.Y. Junction (1956); Magnificent T. Jones, Vol. 3 (1956); Magnificent Thad Jones (1956); After Hours (1957); Magnificent (1957): After Hours (1958); Motor City Scene (1959); Complete Solid State Recordings (1966); Mean What You Say (1966); Presenting Thad Jones: Mel Lewis (1966); Thad Jones Live at the Village (1967); Monday Night (1968); Central Park North (1969); Consummation (1970); Suite for Pops (1972); Potpourri (1974); New Li-; Dedicated to Max Gordon (1975); Lzpe in Munich (1976); Pans 1969 (1976); Thad Jones with Mel Lewis (1976); Thad Jones and the Mel Lewis Quintet (1977); Live at Montmartre, Copenhagen (1978); Eclipse (1979); Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Quartet (1979); Three and One (1984); Mel Lewis and Friends (1989).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Lewis Porter

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Jones, Thad(deus Joseph)

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