WBGO Blog
  • Vanguard Jazz Orchestra Anticipates the Fourth of July on JazzSet

    June 26, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    12 06 21 VJOSign_Duke

    Thanks to our colleagues at WBGO and NPR Music, this week JazzSet brings you a treasure of a band. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has achieved dazzling longevity, assembled a huge book of charts, and features one of New York's finest and bravest in every chair. Check this out:

    Of course in 46 years, there have been personnel changes beginning with the singer. Host Dee Dee Bridgewater launched her career at The Vanguard with the original Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra from 1970-74. No one has replaced her. Thad had a nickname for her; she reveals it on JazzSet.

    Celebrating their anniversary, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra plays compositions by Jones and Bob Brookmeyer, Thad's successor as Musical Director. They wrap up waving the flag with a number Jones wrote for the Bicentennial, 7/4/76.   "My Centennial" has an irresistible melody led by the trumpets, with fireworks.

    Listen at 6:30 tomorrow evening, Wednesday, June 27. Or click here for JazzSet on demand. Happy Fourth!

  • Great Live Moments - Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

    April 15, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

    Thad Jones and Mel Lewis created one of the most enduring rituals in New York. They started a big band in 1966, one that included some of the most gifted composers and improvisers in the city, many of whom were making their living as studio professionals or in Broadway pit bands. Max Gordon at the Village Vanguard booked them for three consecutive Monday evenings, and the rest is history. Both Jones and Lewis are gone, but the spirit of their music (as well as the original compositions and arrangements from their bands) continues with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

    Every February, the VJO plays a weeklong showcase at the Vanguard. On the thirty fourth anniversary of the band, WBGO recorded the group on Monday night, of couse. As it happened, that was Valentine's Day, 2000.

    We'll feature "Samba Con Getchu," a composition from Bob Brookmeyer, one of the early members of the Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Orchestra. The VJO included Jay Brandford, Ralph Lalama, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry, Gary Smulyan, Saxophones / Glenn Drewes, Earl Gardner, Joe Mosello, Scott Wendholt, Trumpets / Luis Bonilla, Jason Jackson, John Mosca, Douglas Purviance, Trombones / Ted Rosenthal, Piano / Dennis Irwin, Bass / John Riley, Drums

    Listen to Samba Con Getchu from the WBGO Archives.