The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra is a 17 piece group based in Knoxville, Tennessee. The band was formed in 1999 by trumpeter/arranger Vance Thompson to perform and promote music for big band. All members of the band are professional musicians, some with years of experience in other top flight jazz ensembles (Woody Herman Orchestra, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Buddy Morrow Orchestra).
The group performs well over a dozen concerts each year, many featuring internationally recognized jazz artists. Artists who have appeared with the band include pianists Monty Alexander, Donald Brown, Hank Jones and Mulgrew Miller; saxophonists Seamus Blake, Don Braden, Vincent Herring, James Moody and Greg Tardy; trumpeters Bill Mobley, Marvin Stamm and Byron Stripling; trombonists Wycliffe Gordon and Paul McKee; bassist John Clayton; vibraphonist Stefon Harris; Hammond B-3 organist Dan Trudell; vocalists Deborah Brown and Annie Sellick.
Vance Thompson - director
A Tennessee native, Vance Thompson grew up in a musical family. He began studying piano at age 5, and picked up the trumpet at 10. While still in high school, Thompson began studying jazz improvisation with famed educator Jerry Coker at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Thompson completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Knoxville in 1994, then moved to Chicago, IL to continue his studies at DePaul University. Thompson has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including 1st Place at the International Trumpet Guild's jazz competition in 1993, and Downbeat Magazine's Best Arrangement in 1997.