Big Band Mondays: A Nod to Tradition at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

News | Aug, 1st 2017

Monday nights in New York have a, well, bigsignificance for jazz fans. It's a tradition that the Coca-ColaGenerations in Jazz Festival is reimagining this September at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.

This particular custom was inaugurated at the Village Vanguard in 1966. Monday nights were normally dark at the Vanguard, but its owner Max Gordon decided to open the club for trumpeter Thad Jones, drummer Mel Lewis, and an orchestra full of New York's best studio musicians. The band crammed itself into the tight confines of the Vanguard's stage and played its first gig on February 7, proceeding to perform for the next several Mondays. And thus, Big Band Mondays—a long-standing custom and the name of a series of performances happening this September at Dizzy's—were born.

That 1966 gig was the beginning of a fifty-year-long (and running) residency for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, now known asthe Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and forthe virtuosity of its musicians and the harmonic density and propulsive swing that characterize its voluminous book of big band charts (many of which were authored by the inimitable Jones). The band is a New York institution, having nurtured a long list of all-star musicians including Joe Lovano, Roland Hanna, Jerry Dodgion, and Bob Brookmeyer, not to mention late Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member Joe Temperley.

Over the years, several other New York clubs have found their own Monday night big bands. The Maria Schneider Orchestra performed every Monday night at the now-defunct Visiones in the Village for a five-year stretch in the 1990s. The Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra had a similar gig at Birdland for nearly seven years starting in the late 1990s. And now, every Monday night, the Mingus Big Band takes over the Jazz Standard for two sets.

For its part, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola is hosting a different big band most Mondays during September. On September 4, Ryan Keberle’s Big Band Living Legacy Project will take the stage to celebrate baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan; on September 18, the Dave Liebman Big Band conducted by Gunnar Mossblad will perform music by John Coltrane; and on September 25, the Mambo Legends Orchestra, which consists of musicians who formerly played with the legendary Tito Puente Orchestra, will perform music from the 1950s and 60s Palladium Era.

It's this kind of nod toward tradition that's come to define the Generations In Jazz Festival's history-spanning approach. This September in Dizzy's, as in New York, Monday nights are synonymous with big band jazz.

Reserve a table for Ryan Keberle's Big Band Living Legacy Project's performances on Monday, September 4.

Reserve a table for the Dave Liebman Big Band's performances on Monday, September 18.

Reserve a table for the Palladium Era featuring The Mambo Legends Orchestra on Monday, September 25.

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