The Groove Merchant – 1968

Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra


A relaxed swinger from one of the late 1960s top big bands

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Formed in 1965 and co-led by cornetist-arranger Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis until Jones’ departure in 1978, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra was one of the great big bands of its time; it exists today as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Originally it was very much an all-star band as one can see on this version of Jerome Richardson’s “The Groove Merchant” in 1968.

Pianist Sir Roland Hanna, bassist Richard Davis and a reed section that consists of baritonist Pepper Adams, Eddie Daniels and Seldon Powell on tenors, altoist Jerry Dodgion, and Jerome Richardson on soprano are the stars of this performance; trumpeter Snooky Young and trombonist Jimmy Knepper are among the others who can be prominently seen.

No wonder Thad Jones, who always conducted colorfully, is smiling throughout.

-Scott Yanow

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