The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is ...

The NYC 16-piece jazz orchestra founded in 1966 by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.

In front of the iconic red roof of the Village Vanguard our Monday night home.
  • Founded as Thad Jones/Mel Lewis and The Jazz Orchestra
Thad Jones, who was featured in the Count Basie Orchestra, and Los Angeles based drummer Mel Lewis from the Stan Kenton Orchestra, started the band in 1966 with some of the top studio musicians in New York City.
The beautiful melodies and unique arrangements of Thad Jones enchanted audiences worldwide. The mixture of the music from diverse backgrounds created their innovative sound and the band was quickly recognized as a world-class big band.
  • Mel Lewis and The Jazz Orchestra
In 1978, Thad Jones moved to Denmark but the band continued as Mel Lewis and The Jazz Orchestra. In addition to the masterpieces by Thad, they actively employed new and original compositions and arrangements by Bob Brookmeyer, Jim McNeely and others. Those new arrangements were complex and avant-garde, but they stayed true to their fundamental band sound and swing. Their excellent artistry sustained and grew their high reputation. 
  • Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
By changing its name to the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the orchestra created its own identity after losing both of its leaders. The ensemble cultivated its rich history while commissioning new music that made them the prototype of innovative big band music. 2016 marks 50 years of continued performances of Monday Night Live at the world’s premiere jazz club, The Village Vanguard.
  • Education 
"Precepts of Swing" is the educational program developed by the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.  See the "Education" page for detailed information.


We are playing at The Village Vanguard every Monday. 8:30pm and 10:30pm.
For tickets, please visit The Village Vanguard's website.
The Village Vanguard

No Performance on July 2nd 2018 

Please note that VJO will NOT perform at the Village Vanguard on Monday July 2nd, 2018. This day is reserved for a Celebration of the life of our mentor and benefactor Lorraine Gordon. Thank you Lorraine for all that you have done for VJO!. We miss you dearly!


52nd Anniversary Celebration 

Since 52 years we have been playing every Monday Night live at the world famous Village Vanguard and of course, we want to celebrate that with you. 

Every day from February 12 through 19, we'll be playing the music from our rich library that includes music from Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Jim McNeely and many others. 

You can purchase tickets online here

We look forward to seeing you there!

2017-2018 VJO holiday schedule 

Hi, VJO fans! 
Our Holiday Schedule 
NO VJO performance on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25th, 2017. 
VJO WILL BE performing at the Village Vanguard on New Years Day, Monday January 1st, 2018. 
Our ANNIVERSARY WEEK is February 12-19, 2018. 


What's New


  • OverTime - Music of Bob Brookmeyer - 2014 GRAMMY nominee
  • Forever Lasting -Live in Tokyo- 2012 GRAMMY nominee
  • Monday Night Live At The Village Vanguard 2009 GRAMMY winner
  • Up From The Skies, Music of Jim McNeely 2006  TWO GRAMMY nominations
  • The Way, Music of Slide Hampton - 2005 GRAMMY winner
  • Can I Persuade You - 2003 GRAMMY nominee
  • Thad Jones Legacy - 2001 AFIM winner
  • Lickety Split, Music of Jim McNeely - 1999 GRAMMY nominee
  • To You - Tribute to Mel Lewis

For detailed info, please visit "music" page.

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