The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Jazz Festival Concert with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Event information

March 01, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Presented By: Department of Music

Location: Memorial Auditorium

Address: Memorial Auditorium, 503 N. Pine, Pittsburg, KS 66762

Event details

Culminating the PSU Jazz Festival will be a performance by the PSU Jazz Ensemble, directed by Robert Kehle, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra from New York City.

   Mel Lewis and The Jazz Orchestra in 1966 and has performed continuously over 50 years.
In 1966 cornetist, composer, arranger, Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis founded a band in
New York. Having settled in New York after leaving their respective touring jobs with Basie and
Kenton, Thad and Mel along with many of their colleagues needed an outlet for their creative
energies and relief from the tedium of the studio work.
   With a handful of arrangements they approached legendary club owner Max Gordon and were
booked at the Village Vanguard for 3 Mondays in February. Critical acclaim, awards and
international success followed but in 1979, tired of frequent traveling and the economic
uncertainty that even great jazz musicians endure in America, Thad left the band to accept
leadership of the Danish Radio Orchestra in Copenhagen.
   Mel decided to continue the band now billed as Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra and enlisted
the talents of his old friend and former band member Bob Brookmeyer who, miraculously was
just returning to active playing and composing in New York. The band not only survived but
with Brookmeyer’s writing continued the innovation and influence that Thad and Mel had
began. Bob moved on to other projects and ultimately also settled in Europe, the new material
coming from within the band now.
   In 1990 the band would endure a terrible blow when Mel Lewis died after a 5 year battle with
cancer. For the members, all of whom had been there 5 years and several over 10, losing Mel
was a deep family tragedy, for great bands invariably become families. The decision was made
to move forward as a cooperative endeavor with the music as its front man.
  So three weeks have become a permanent gig spanning over five decades and another name
change; The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Several of the current key members played for Thad, so
the original precepts of sound and swing are proudly held and displayed while the other
original precepts of creativity and experimentation are nurtured and encouraged.
  The Village Vanguard is still a great place to be on a Monday night no matter which side of the
bandstand you’re on.
  Over the past decades The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has received multiple Grammy’s and
Grammy Nominations for every recording they made.

   After winning the Grammy for Monday Night Live At The Village Vanguard, the following two
CD’s; Forever Lasting/ Live In Tokyo; and OverTime/ The Music of Bob Brookmeyer, both
received Grammy Nominations.
   The 50th anniversary will be celebrated with 8 consecutive nights of performances at the Village
Vanguard (178 7th Ave. South) beginning February 1 through 8, 2016. and with concerts
throughout the year in performance centers across the globe.

Contact information

Robert Kehle