he band was founded in New York City Feb. 7, 1966, at the Village Vanguard Club. From the beginning it was obvious that an exceptional ensemble had been born. Led by Thad Jones, cornetist, composer and arranger, and Mel Lewis, drummer, the original Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra would become one of the most acclaimed and innovative big bands in jazz history. It toured extensively throughout three continents. Since the leaders' decease, it became the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and continues to be in residence on Monday nights, over 40 years since its inception, featuring a group of today’s brightest jazz performers.
For over four decades the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has been committed to engaging audiences in jazz and related American music experiences. The orchestra serves as a creative outlet for some of the nation's foremost performers, composers, and arrangers. One of the driving forces behind the longevity and artistic excellence of this ensemble is a commitment to the original Jones/Lewis orchestra precepts of sound and the nurturing and encouragement of creativity and experimentation in the creators, jazz performers and listeners of jazz.
As quoted in the New Yorker magazine, "The band’s orchestral colors, rhythms and formal strategies could take on modernist garb, but the band has always has a shout-it-out loud enthusiasm, producing huge tones that are both thrilling and Precise."
The orchestra comes to Costa Mesa fresh from being nominated for a Grammy Award this year for Instrumental Arrangement to Jimmy McNeely for the recently released CD, "Up From the Stars."
The Vanguard Orchestra appearance is part of the Philharmonic Society's Eclectic Orange series which celebrates the eclectic nature of the cultural landscape, ignoring boundaries separating arts disciplines, mixing classical, jazz and world music in its schedule.
Also in this series is the upcoming appearance of David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness, Jan. 27, at the Concert Hall. While honoring the traditional roots of Eastern European Jewish music, clarinetist Krakauer and his group of eight musicians integrates elements of jazz, rock and funk as part of the current Klezmer revival.