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Mel Lewis

Although he was generally hesitant to solo, Mel Lewis was considered among the definitive big band drummers, a musician who was simply best at driving an orchestra, but may possibly also play quite nicely with smaller sized units. He began playing appropriately when he was 15 and caused the big rings of Boyd Raeburn (1948), Alvino Rey, Ray Anthony, and Tex Beneke. Lewis obtained significant amounts of reputation in the jazz globe for his use Stan Kenton (1954-1957), producing the top ensemble golf swing hard. In 1957, he resolved in LA, became a studio room drummer, and caused the big rings of Terry Gibbs and Gerald Wilson. Lewis visited New York to try out with Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Music group in 1960, and he toured European countries with Dizzy Gillespie (1961) as well as the Soviet Union with Benny Goodman (1962). In 1965, Lewis shaped an orchestra in NY with Thad Jones which turned out to be among the best big rings in jazz. When Jones amazed everyone by instantly fleeing to European countries in 1979, Lewis became the orchestra’s lone head, playing frequently each Monday evening at the Community Vanguard until his loss of life. Lewis recorded being a head in the 1950s for SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Jazz Records, Setting (reissued on V.S.O.P.), and Andex and, after Thad Jones still left their orchestra, Lewis documented along with his big music group for Atlantic, Telarc, and Music Experts.

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