Thad Jones


Thad Jones

: For the New Orleans music historian, see Tad Jones".Thaddeus Joseph Jones (March 28, 1923August 21, 1986) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader.

He was born in Pontiac, Michigan to a musical family of ten (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). Thad Jones was a self taught musician, performing professionally by the age of sixteen. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943-46).

After the war, Thad Jones continued his professional music career, eventually winding up with Count Basie in 1954, for whom he arranged, composed, and performed. He stayed with Basie for nine years. Thad achieved critical acclaim during this time, but not for his work with Basie. Much of Jones's music was stylistically original and didn't always fit in with the Basie group which he left in 1963. In the early sixties he became a free lance arranger and performer in the New York area.

In 1965, he and drummer Mel Lewis formed the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. The group initially began with informal late night jam sessions amongst New York's top studio musicians. The group eventually began performing at the Village Vanguard, to wide acclaim, and continued with Jones in the lead for twelve years. They won a 1978 Grammy Award for their album "Live in Munich". [LA Times, "The Envelope" awards database. [http://theenvelope.latimes.com/factsheets/awardsdb/env-awards-db-landing,0,3713019.htmlstory (link)] Accessed 2008 April 30.] Jones also taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey.

Jones' big band arranging style was unique, especially from the standpoint of featuring dissonant voicings in a tonal context. This required the members of his big band to play correctly in tune, otherwise the dense chords he wrote would not sound correct. Minor 2nds and major 7ths are often featured in his voicings, especially when the entire band plays a long, powerful chord that some would describe as having "bite".

One of the more notable albums he made in this regard is "Suite for Pops" recorded on the A&M Records "Horizon" label (now out of print) in the early 70's. It also featured the intense bebop improvisations of saxophonist Billy Harper and the high note screech playing of lead trumpet player Jon Faddis.

In 1978, Thad suddenly moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, (to the great surprise of his New York band mates), where several other American jazz musicians had gone to live. There, he formed a new band "Eclipse", composed for The "Danish Radio Big Band" and taught jazz at the "Royal Danish Conservatory" in Copenhagen.

A year before his death, Jones came back to the U.S. to lead the Count Basie Orchestra but had to step down due to ill health. He returned to his home in Copenhagen for the last few months of his life. He died on August 21, 1986 after being hospitalized for months but his cause of death was not published. At the time of his death he had a six year old child, also named Thad Jones, with his wife Lis Jones, a daughter Thadia and a son Bruce. He is buried there in the Vestre Kirkegard Cemetery (Western Churchyard Cemetery).Reuter. "Award-winning poet honored by peers", Globe & Mail. August 22, 1986.]

Charles Mingus called Jones "...the greatest trumpet player I've heard in this life." In later years his playing ability was overshadowed by his composing and arranging skills. His best known composition is the standard "A Child is Born".

References

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10389199 Thad Jones at Find-A-Grave]
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jiftxqt5ldfe That Jones at Allmusic.com]


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