Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In New York, he teamed up with Thad Jones to lead the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. The group started as informal jam sessions with the top studio and jazz musicians of the city, but eventually began performing. In 1979 they won a Grammy for their album Live in Munich. Like all of the musicians in the band, it was only a side line.
The band became the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra in 1978, when Thad moved to Denmark. He continued to lead the band, recording and performing every Monday night at the Village Vanguard until shortly before his death.
Lewis's cymbal work was unique and added qualities to his groups that are hard to describe, but that are recognized immediately. He had fourteen Grammy nominations, authored a drumming book, and taught at the William Patterson State College in New Jersey.
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