WP Jazz Students to Celebrate 100th Birthday of Late Jazz Great Thad Jones in Performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York City on March 28

Three William Paterson University student groups—the William Paterson University Jazz Orchestra and two other jazz ensembles—will celebrate the 100th birthday of Thad Jones, the late trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, and founding director of the University’s Jazz Studies Program, during performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola/Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 with sets at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively.

Saxophonists Rich Perry and Gary Smulyan—both members of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which began as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra in 1966—will join the WP Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of David Demsey, professor of music and coordinator of jazz studies, for the first set. The second set will feature the William Paterson University Jazz Quintet and the William Paterson University Jazz Sextet; both are directed by the internationally acclaimed jazz pianist Bill Charlap, director of the Jazz Studies Program. The ensembles represent three of the 26 jazz groups that are the core of William Paterson’s historic Jazz Studies Program, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023.

Both sets will feature music written by Thad Jones that is held in the Thad Jones Archive on campus. The Thad Jones Archive, which includes original pencil scores and parts for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and for other recording and tour projects, is part of the University’s Living Jazz Archives, which features tens of thousands of musical scores, arrangements, recordings, videos, photographs, tour itineraries and posters, instruments, and memorabilia by Jones, Michael Brecker, Clark Terry, Art Farmer, James Williams, Jim McNeely, Don Sebesky, and Lee Konitz, among others.

Jones (1923-1986) was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra and wrote more than 25 arrangements for that band. He left the Basie Orchestra in 1963 to become a freelance arranger and studio player in New York, and with Mel Lewis formed the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. The orchestra’s first engagement at the Village Vanguard, for three Monday nights in 1966, has carried on continuously since then, with the group, now called the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, in its 57th year of Monday nights at the legendary jazz club.

In 1973, Jones was hired as the first full-time faculty member and founding director for William Paterson’s Jazz Studies Program. The program was one of the first degree programs in jazz studies in the nation, offering a unique emphasis on small group playing and improvisation. With Jones’s hiring, William Paterson became the first school anywhere to bring a major league jazz star onto the tenured resident faculty. Jones led the program from 1973 to 1979.

The William Paterson University Jazz Studies Program is unique among college programs, with an emphasis on small group playing, improvisation, and a genuine commitment to the jazz tradition. Its artist/teacher faculty is made up of world-class, New York-area professionals. Jazz majors come to William Paterson this year from 18 states and 11 foreign countries and have included numerous international Fulbright Scholars.

For more information, or to make a reservation, visit https://2023.jazz.org/william-paterson-university-jazz-orchestra-ensembles.

The WP Jazz Orchestra features Ben Lindenburg, Seattle, WA, and Dan Leschinsky, Wayne, NJ, on alto saxophone;  Michael Howe, Miami, FL, and Joe Foglia, Raleigh, NC, on tenor saxophone; Chelsea McBride, Toronto, Canada, on baritone saxophone; Sean Hack, Maplewood, NJ, Dakarai Barclay, Chicago, IL, Ernest Royeppen, Cape Town, South Africa, and Ian Livingston, Shepherdsville, WV, on trumpet; Richard LaRouech, East Aurora, NY, Isla Brownlow, Blue Hill, ME, and Matt Mousseau, Brewer, ME, on trombone; Dave Montgomerie, Freehold, NJ, on bass trombone; James Bally, Elizabeth, NJ, on piano; Eoin O’Mara, New York, NY, and Hoyeon Choi, Seoul, South Korea, on guitar; Ben Petkaitis, West Hartford, CT, on bass; and Eli Strombom, Folsom, CA, on drums.

The WP Jazz Quintet features Ian Livingston, Shepherdsville, WV, on trumpet; Owen Walter, Farmington, MN, on alto saxophone; James Bally, Elizabeth, NJ, on piano; Evan Wohlrabe, St. Louis, MO, on bass; and Jared Spears, O’Fallon, MO, on drums.

The WP Jazz Sextet features Dakarai Barclay, Chicago, IL, on trumpet; Matt Mousseau, Brewer, ME, on trombone; Bailey Giles, Hampden, ME, on saxophone; Leonieke Scheuble, Rockaway, NJ, on piano; Matt Kaefer, Ramsey, NJ, on bass; and Maria Kolesnik, Bronx, NY, on drums.