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Reno Jazz Orchestra to perform music of Thad Jones, Mel Lewis (sponsored)


Reno Jazz Workshop Students to open the show

The Reno Jazz Orchestra (RJO) will present “Live at The Village at Vanguard – Music of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis” under the direction of Music Director Doug Coomler at the GLM Theatre in Reno, Nevada, on June 4 and 5. The Reno Jazz Workshop students open both concerts.

The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra became world-famous, especially with their 1967 release, Live at the Village Vanguard. The album was nominated for a GRAMMY in that same year under the category of “Best Instrumental Jazz Performance of a Large Group.” The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra went on to win a GRAMMY in 1979.

Thad Jones, who played trumpet in the Count Basie Band, started to write music for Count Basie. Realizing that his music was a bit too modern and advanced for Count Basie, he decided to start his own jazz band. That’s how the story began in 1965 when Thad Jones combined his talents with the exceptional abilities of drummer Mel Lewis and created a big band that played at the Village Vanguard in New York City

Being extremely difficult to get the best musicians in New York together for a big band due to them playing gigs of their own, the band elected to play their gigs on Monday nights. To this day, The Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Orchestra, now called the Vanguard Orchestra, is still playing at the Village Vanguard. 

There are many things to listen for in the music of Thad Jones. He had the unique ability to use very tight and dense chords that brought out never before heard colors and textures. Most jazz programs at Universities teach the “Thad Jones voicings.” Another aspect of his music is the way he makes the 17-piece orchestra feel like a small jazz combo, allowing the soloists and rhythm section to be very expressive together and allowing soloists to play for extended periods of time, with open solo sections.  

The Reno Jazz Orchestra has been based in Northern Nevada for over 20 years and was formed by musicians who performed and traveled the world with acts such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Natalie Cole, Luciano Pavarotti, and other legendary performers. The tradition of jazz excellence set by the founders continues today with jazz professors, educators, and graduates from the University of Nevada, Reno’s jazz studies program setting new performance standards.

Chase International, EL Cord Foundation, Nevada Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Tanglewood Productions, Art Works, City of Reno, Thunder Vick & Co., Montreux, and the RJO Circle of Friends and Fans support this event. 
For more details and to purchase tickets, visit RenoJazzOrchestra.org.

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