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Famous drummer



Mel Lewis

Born May 10, 1929 in Buffalo, NY

Died Feb 2, 1990 in New York, NY

Mel Lewis was considered one of the definitive big-band drummers, a musician who was best at driving an orchestra

started playing professionally when he was 15 and worked with the big bands of Boyd Raeburn (1948), Alvino Rey, Ray Anthony and Tex Beneke. Lewis gained a great deal of recognition in the jazz world for his work with Stan Kenton (1954-57), making the large ensemble swing hard. In 1957 he settled in Los Angeles, became a studio drummer and worked with the big bands of Terry Gibbs and Gerald Wilson. Lewis went to New York to play with Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band in 1960 and he toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie (1961) and the Soviet Union with Benny Goodman (1962). In 1965 Lewis formed an orchestra in New York with Thad Jones which grew to be one of the top big bands in jazz. When Jones surprised everyone by suddenly fleeing to Europe in 1979, Lewis became the orchestra's sole leader, playing regularly each Monday night at the Village Vanguard with the band up until his death. Mel Lewis recorded as a leader in the 1950s for San Francisco Jazz Records, Mode (reissued on V.S.O.P.) and Andex and, after Thad Jones left their orchestra, Mel Lewis recorded with his big band for Atlantic, Telarc and Music Masters. Bio FromThe All Music Guide




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