Thad Jones

While listening to Pandora in the backgroud...this killer trumpet playing caught my attention.  I walked over to the player to see that it was the Thelonius Monk album 'Five By Monk Five'.  I looked up the album on Wikipedia to see what musicians were on the session. It listed Thad Jones as the trumpeter.  He was killing it.  I'm 65 years old and have been listening to jazz for 46 years and have never heard any music by Thad Jones.   I'd seen his name a few times over the decades while reading about jazz, but nothing ever stood out.  I retrieved the album on Napster and played it.  Excellent album.  Cat can play.

Can anyone recommend any Thad Jones recordings that you think are some of his best work?

On a trivia note, .....pianist Hank Jones and drummer Elvin Jones are his brothers.
Not only could he play, his skills as an arranger and big band leader were so admired that many forgot what a great player he also was. He co-led with drummer Mel Lewis one of the greatest contemporary big bands in jazz history, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra which for decades has had Monday nights at the Village Vanguard in NYC (called the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra since Lewis’ passing). One of the very best big band arrangers of all time. Got his start as an arranger and trumpeter with Count Basie’s band. Check out:

Thad Jones “The Magnificent Thad Jones”
Hank Jones “Groovin High”
Oliver Nelson “More Blues And The Abstract Truth”
Pepper Adams “Plays The Compositions Of Charles Mingus”

And, of course, as leader and arranger of his big band. Great arranger. Some favorites are:

”Live At The Village Vanguard”
”Central Park North”

Thanks for the suggestions frogman...I'll check them out.

I'm particularly interested in his playing in a quintet or sextet setting.
Thanks for mentioning Thad Jones just queued up Village Vanguard on Tidal!
This is a fun thread! Thanks for starting it mitch4t.

The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, Live at the Village Vanguard, has two incredible bands. One of the musicians, Bob Brookmeyer played valve trombone, and boy can he swing.

If anyone is interested, give Kansas City Revisited as listen. You won't be disappointed.

Another +vote for the Village Vanguard set w/ Mel Lewis and The Magnificent Thad Jones.

Happy Listening!

Hi Mitch4t,
As a fellow jazz aficionado I’m somewhat surprised you’ve just recently discovered this outstanding trumpeter. He was every bit the talent equal of Miles, Clifford Grown, Fats Navarro etc. As usual Frogman is spot on.

Small combo settings,
"Mean What You Say"
"Keeping Up With The Joneses"
"After Hours"
"The Fabulous Thad Jones"
"Detroit-New York Junction"
Thad could flat out play, yes indeed 😅.
The Jones brothers Hank, Thad and Elvin were one of the great families of jazz along with,
Heath brothers,  Percy, Jimmy and Albert.
Montgomery brothers,  Wes, Buddy and Monk.
Charles1dad, I work from home and have jazz in the background all day.  I've listened to jazz all my adult life...a lot.  I've heard a LOT of jazz.  In the beginning my only exposure to jazz was jazz radio.  If the DJ's didn't play it, I didn't hear it.  No one played Thad Jones.  My other exposure is from music recommended by friends.  No one recommended Thad Jones.  In the mean time I own over 4,000 albums (vinyl & cd combined), I listen to a paid subscription of Napster and Pandora.  I have access to more music than I can ever listen to in a lifetime.  There is SO MUCH great jazz out there and only so many hours in a day.  There are still many great jazz artists's music that I've never heard.  Thanks to Pandora, and the bottomless reservoir of jazz that's been recorded throughout history, I'll still be discovering new jazz recordings for the rest of my life.


I hear what you're saying. I've been a jazz fan for about 9 years, and more casually before that, but I don't have a clear view of the landscape and the history as I do with rock, so I depend on random discoveries and the recommendations of others. Thanks for the heads up guys. It's always great to make a new discovery.  

Hi Mitch,
 Yes I truly understand your point.  No matter how much jazz music listening and exposure there's still someone new to discover.  I have a pretty good size collection of jazz recordings but not as large as yours.

You are so right in that there's so much recorded jazz you could live two lifetimes and yet would be unable to hear it all. I've been a devout jazz listener 30 years and attend live jazz venues quite regularly. This experience of hearing the musicians live has profoundly impacted how I judge/choose audio components😊.

Since the topic is regarding a renowned jazz trumpeter,  are you familiar with Trumpeters Lee Morgan,  Kenny Dorham or Fats Navarro? I listen to a lot of Miles and Chet Baker. 
I knew of Thad as a player but not as a bandleader so this has been great. Listened to some Thad/Mel Lewis stuff and some of Thad's solo stuff. Great music and playing and excellent sound quality across the board thus far. Thanks for starting the thread Mitch and Frogman and Charles for sharing your voluminous jazz knowledge. And happy Friday all!
Charles1dad, my current trumpet faves are Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Blue Mitchell, early 60's Donald Byrd and of course Miles.  The catalogs of just this handful of guys as leaders and as sidemen is exhaustive.

I've heard of Kenny Dorham and Fats Navarro...but never listened to any of their music.  Their music is easily available on my paid subscription service, but I've just never gotten around to giving them a try.  I've listened to Chet Baker a few times over the years..but he's not in my regular trumpet rotation.

My current project is to find EVERYTHING I can by Randy Brecker as a jazz sideman.  As a leader, I'm not that thrilled, but the few times I've heard him as a sideman...he REALLY sparkles.
I think that “sparkles” is a great way to describe Randy Brecker’s playing. He plays with a very brilliant tone, very modern harmonic concept and a swing feel that is informed by his extensive experience in the rock and fusion worlds. Speaking of musical families, he and his brother Michael (RIP) have fronted some of the best fusion ensembles in the genre. If you like Randy’s playing you may want to check out Woody Shaw. While Shaw doesn’t hint of a fusion influence I find that there are similarities in their style and advanced harmonic concept; all at an arguably even higher level.

Re Thad Jones: his arranging skills were fantastic, but his skill as a composer shouldn’t be overlooked. Probably his best known composition:

Btw, as a testament to how highly regarded he was among his piers consider that ever since the decline in the popularity of big bands playing in one has not been a money making proposition at all for busy players. They did it for the love of the music and that type of musical setting; and take a look at who is in the reed section in the live clip of “Groove Merchant” that I posted: Joe Henderson, Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion, Eddie Daniels and Pepper Adams. Not too shabby!
"A Child Is Born" absolutely a beautiful classic written by Thad. Pepper Adams (Baritone Saxophone) did a wonderful cover of this song as have many others.

Mitch, Navarro had some very nice sessions with Tadd Dameron. He was a superb Bop trumpeter. Not nearly as well known as the iconic Dizzy Gillespie but I prefer Fats Navarro’s playing more. Sadly he died at the tender age of 27.
"Central Park North" kills just finished listening to it, the title track is a wonderfully complex but grooving song!
mitch, don’t feel bad. I’ve been a jazz fan for more than 50 years and thanks to the "Jazz for aficionados" post here I’m still discovering musicians I never heard of, including some from many years ago. But yes, as a big Monk fan I’ve owned "5 X Monk X 5" nearly that whole time. Good choice!
Thad Jones caught my ear about a year ago and I was blown away by him. My favorite album by him is "The Magnificent Thad Jones" followed by "Detroit-New York Junction". Thad is a monster and very very talented, I think he was a very underrated trumpeter.
Also which might be of interest: Thad Jones plays on certain cuts on the excellent “Ellington Is Forever, Vol. 1” by Kenny Burrell. Also, I recently picked up a Thad Jones tribute album entitled “Mad About Thad” by the NYJAZZ Initiative - excellent tribute album which exceeded my expectations.