Thad Jones

Last updated

Thad Jones
Thad Jones.jpg
Thad Jones
Background information
Birth nameThaddeus Joseph Jones
Born(1923-03-28)March 28, 1923
Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
DiedAugust 20, 1986(1986-08-20) (aged 63)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, bandleader
Instrument(s) Trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn
Years active1954–1986
Labels A&M, Blue Note, Debut

Thaddeus Joseph Jones (March 28, 1923 – August 20, 1986) [1] was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader who has been called "one of the all-time greatest jazz trumpet soloists". [2]



Thad Jones was born in Pontiac, Michigan to Henry and Olivia Jones, a musical family of 10 (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). A self-taught musician, Thad began performing professionally at the age of 16. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943–46). [1]

After his military service, which included an association with the U.S. Military School of Music and working with area bands in Des Moines and Oklahoma City, Jones became a member of the Count Basie Orchestra in May 1954. [1] He was featured as a soloist on such well-known tunes as "April in Paris", "Shiny Stockings", and "Corner Pocket". However, his main contribution to Basie's organization was nearly two dozen arrangements and compositions, which included "The Deacon", "H.R.H." (Her Royal Highness – in honor of the band's command performance in London), "Counter Block", and lesser known tracks such as "Speaking of Sounds". His hymn-like ballad "To You" was performed by the Basie band combined with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in their only recording together, and the recording Dance Along With Basie contains nearly an entire album of Jones's uncredited arrangements of standard tunes. In 1959, Jones played cornet on Thelonious Monk's 5 by Monk by 5 album.[ citation needed ]

Jones left the Basie Orchestra in 1963 to become a freelance arranger and musician in New York City. [1] In 1965, he and drummer Mel Lewis formed the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. [1] The group started with informal late-night jam sessions among New York's top studio musicians. They began performing at the Village Vanguard in February 1966, to wide acclaim, and continued with Jones in the lead for 12 years. They won a 1978 Grammy Award for their album Live in Munich . [3] Jones taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey, which is now the site of the Thad Jones Archive, containing pencil scores and vintage photos as part of the Living Jazz Archives.[ citation needed ]

In January 1979, [4] Thad suddenly moved to Copenhagen (to the great surprise of his New York bandmates), where several other U.S. jazz musicians had gone to live. There he became the leader of The Danish Radio Big Band, [1] and married a Danish woman, Lis.

Jones transformed the Danish Radio Big Band into one of the world's best. The result can be heard on a live-recording from the Montmartre in Copenhagen. In July 1979, Jones formed a new big band, Eclipse, [1] with which he recorded a live album, Eclipse. [5] Several Americans were on the album: pianist Horace Parlan, baritonist Sahib Shihab, trumpeter Tim Hagans, and trombonist/vocalist Richard B. Boone. The rest of the band comprised trombonists Bjarne Thanning and Ture Larsen, trumpeter Lars Togeby, altoists Ole Thøger and Michael Hove, tenor saxophonist Bent Jædig, and bassist Jesper Lundgaard. Jones further composed for the Danish Radio Big Band and taught jazz at the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen. He studied composition formally during this period, and also took up the valve trombone. [1]

In February 1985, Jones returned to the U.S. to take over the leadership of the Count Basie Orchestra, upon his former leader's death. [1] Jones fronted the Basie band on numerous tours, also writing arrangements for recordings and performances with vocalist Caterina Valente and the Manhattan Transfer, but had to step down due to ill health. He returned to his home in Copenhagen for the last few months of his life, and died of cancer on August 20, 1986, aged 63, at Herlev Hospital.

In later years his playing ability was diminished due to a lip injury, but his composing and arranging skills blossomed. His best-known composition is the standard "A Child Is Born".

At the time of his death, Jones had a six-year-old son, also named Thad (Thaddeus Joseph William Jones), with his wife, Lis Jones. He had a daughter Thedia and a son Bruce in the U.S. He was buried in Copenhagen's Vestre Kirkegård Cemetery (Western Churchyard Cemetery). [6]

Thad Jones has a street named after him in southern Copenhagen, "Thad Jones Vej" (Thad Jones Street).


As leader or co-leader

With the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra

With DR Big Band

As chief conductor

As sideman

With Count Basie

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Kenny Burrell

With Dexter Gordon

  • Ca'Purange (Prestige, 1973) – recorded in 1972
  • Tangerine (Prestige, 1975) – recorded in 1972

With Coleman Hawkins

With Elvin Jones

With Oliver Nelson

With Shirley Scott

With Sonny Stitt

With Ben Webster

With Frank Wess

With others

As arranger

With Harry James

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joe Williams (jazz singer)</span> American jazz singer (1918–1999)

Joe Williams was an American jazz singer. He sang with big bands such as the Count Basie Orchestra and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and with his combos. He sang in two films with the Basie orchestra and sometimes worked as an actor.

Jerome Richardson was an American jazz musician and woodwind player. He played the soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass saxophone, soprano clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, piccolo, western concert flute, soprano flute, alto flute, tenor flute, and bass flute. He played with Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Billy Eckstine, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Kenny Burrell, and later with Earl Hines' small band.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Wess</span> American saxophonist, flutist, composer and arranger (1922–2013)

Frank Wellington Wess was an American jazz saxophonist and flutist. In addition to his extensive solo work, Wess is remembered for his time in Count Basie's band from the early 1950s into the 1960s. Critic Scott Yanow described him as one of the premier proteges of Lester Young, and a leading jazz flutist of his era—using the latter instrument to bring new colors to Basie's music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry Edison</span> American jazz trumpeter

Harry "Sweets" Edison was an American jazz trumpeter and a member of the Count Basie Orchestra. His most important contribution was as a Hollywood studio musician, whose muted trumpet can be heard backing singers, most notably Frank Sinatra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Snooky Young</span> American jazz trumpeter

Eugene Edward "Snooky" Young was an American jazz trumpeter. He was known for his mastery of the plunger mute, with which he was able to create a wide range of sounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mel Lewis</span> American drummer (1929–1990)

Melvin Sokoloff, known professionally as Mel Lewis, was an American jazz drummer, session musician, professor, and author. He received fourteen Grammy Award nominations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Al Grey</span> American jazz trombonist

Al Grey was an American jazz trombonist who was a member of the Count Basie orchestra. He was known for his plunger mute technique and wrote an instructional book in 1987 called Plunger Techniques.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Count Basie Orchestra</span> American big band

The Count Basie Orchestra is a 16- to 18-piece big band, one of the most prominent jazz performing groups of the swing era, founded by Count Basie in 1935 and recording regularly from 1936. Despite a brief disbandment at the beginning of the 1950s, the band survived long past the big band era itself and the death of Basie in 1984. It continues under the direction of trumpeter Scotty Barnhart.

Joseph Dwight Newman was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator, best known as a musician who worked with Count Basie during two periods.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Foster (jazz musician)</span> American musical artist

Frank Benjamin Foster III was an American tenor and soprano saxophonist, flautist, arranger, and composer. Foster collaborated frequently with Count Basie and worked as a bandleader from the early 1950s. In 1998, Howard University awarded Frank Foster with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Duvivier</span> American jazz double-bassist

George Duvivier was an American jazz double-bassist.

William Melvin Mitchell was an American jazz tenor saxophonist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eddie Bert</span> American jazz trombonist

Edward Joseph Bertolatus, also known as Eddie Bert, was an American jazz trombonist.

Jerry Dodgion was an American jazz saxophonist and flautist.

Eddie Jones was an American jazz double bassist.

Richard Gene Williams was an American jazz trumpeter.

Henry Coker was an American jazz trombonist.

Benny Powell was an American jazz trombonist. He played both standard (tenor) trombone and bass trombone.

William Richard Berry was an American jazz trumpeter, best known for playing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early-1960s, and for leading his own big band.

This is the discography for American jazz musician Richard Davis.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 234. ISBN   0-85112-580-8.
  2. Barnhart, Scotty (2005). The World of Jazz Trumpet: A Comprehensive History & Practical Philosophy. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 220. ISBN   978-0634095276.
  3. LA Times, "The Envelope" awards database. (link) Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  4. Smith, Chris (2014). The View From The Back Of The Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis. University of North Texas Press, pp. 196-198; ISBN   978-1-57441-653-4.
  5. Review by Harvey Siders of Thad Jones' Eclipse, Jazztimes. Edition January/February 2005.
  6. Reuters. Award-winning poet honored by peers, The Globe and Mail . August 22, 1986.
  7. Thad Jones Eclipse Almusic
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 "Thad Jones Discography". The Living Jazz Archives, William Paterson University. Retrieved November 24, 2018.