NYJAZZ features the master jazz musicians and educators behind the critically acclaimed NYJAZZ Initiative. Mad About Thad showcases the astute talents of NYJAZZ artists performing their progressive arrangements of Thad Jones repertoire, whose songs are a staple for jazz education institutions. A legendary jazz trumpeter and one of the most influential composers/arrangers since Duke Ellington, Thad Jones was perhaps most well-known for the big band he founded with drummer Mel Lewis in the 1960s - The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra - that even today continues to have a standing gig at The Village Vanguard, now under the name Village Vanguard Orchestra. NYJAZZ artist and instructor Ralph Lalama (tenor saxophonist) is a disciple of Thad Jones having joined his ensemble in 1975, and is a member of the orchestra to the present day. Amplified by the personal connection to Thad Jones, this adventurous project is also geared toward the educational programming offered by NYJAZZ Initiative. Using Thad's music as a 'springboard', NYJAZZ artists work closely with collegiate and high school ensembles to dive deep into the art of improvisation, communicative ensemble playing, arranging and composition.
"Thad Jones had a sound that is timeless. On his horn and through his music his ideas were profound and personal, and it is evident that his impact and inspiration are strong and clear on 'Mad About Thad'. NYJAZZ plays with perfection, as the new orchestrations by Rob Derke of some of Thad's most beautiful compositions are full of wonderful solos by some of today’s most expressive musicians on the NY scene , especially Ralph Lalama and Rob Derke on tenors and Steve Wilson on alto. "
- Joe Lovano (Saxophonist, Blue Note Records) October 2010