Cultural Percussionist

Thad Jones Day

Thaddeus Joseph Jones (March 28, 1923 – August 20, 1986) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader who has been called “one of the all-time greatest jazz trumpet soloists.”

Thad Jones was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on March 28, 1923, to Henry and Olivvia Jones, a musical family of 10 (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). A self-taught musician, Thad began performing professionally at the age of 16. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943–46).

After his military service, which included an association with the U.S. Military School of Music and working with area bands in Des Moines and Oklahoma City, Jones became a member of the Count Basie Orchestra in May 1954. He was featured as a soloist on such well-known tunes as “April in Paris“, “Shiny Stockings” and “Corner Pocket”. However, his main contribution to Basie’s organization was nearly two dozen arrangements and compositions, which included “The Deacon”, “H.R.H.” (Her Royal Highness — in honor of the band’s command performance in London), “Counter Block”, and lesser known tracks such as “Speaking of Sounds”. His hymn-like ballad “To You” was performed by the Basie band combined with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in their only recording together, and the recording Dance Along With Basie contains nearly an entire album of Jones’ uncredited arrangements of standard tunes.

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