Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra toured the globe with inventive orating big band music and played a crucial role in revitalizing big band jazz. Lewis was considered one of the top drummers in jazz, acclaimed for fusing swing and be-bop in his drumming. After years of anchoring the rhythm sections of the bands of Gerry Mulligan and Stan Kenton, he teamed with trumpeter and composer Thad Jones to form the Jazz Orchestra, a group which became famous by modernizing the big band sound. By the time this concert was filmed the band had been together for almost two decades under the direction of Lewis. Lewis leads his seventeen piece ensemble through several innovative Herbie Hancock and Bob Brookmeyer charts, delivering big band jazz that is both cutting-edge and timeless.
When it comes to citing jazz drummers who have enlivened the genre, many fans and critics point towards Mel Lewis as an innovator of the art. Able to perfectly marry bebop and swing styles into his playing, Lewis quickly garnered an impressive reputation for himself on the burgeoning jazz scene. Stints in various groups inevitably lead to the formation of his own band, which he dubbed The Jazz Orchestra. This celebratory concert offers the chance to see Lewis and his band take to the stage and work their way through a number of jazz classics.
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