Upon graduating high school in 1971, Jon joined Lionel Hampton's band as a featured soloist and moved to New York. That same year, responding to an invitation from Mel Lewis to drop by the Village Vanguard whenever he got to New York, Jon sat in with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band on one of their regular Monday night sessions. That sit-in turned into four years of Monday nights playing with the band, as well as a tour of the Soviet Union with the highly acclaimed unit. Jan also toured with Charles Mingus and recorded on the Pablo label with Dizzy and Oscar Peterson.
Other highlights included filling in (at age of 18) for an ailing Roy Eldridge in an all-star concert led by Charles Mingus at New York's Philharmonic Hall; a Carnegie Hall gig with Sarah Vaughan; two years in attendance at the Dick Gibson~s Annual Colorado Jazz Party where he was featured in a historic duet with Eubie Blake; performances with Gil Evans' and Count Basie's big bands; appearances at Radio City Music Hall and festivals here and abroad; and sitting in with Dizzy whenever possible.
In light of these accomplishments -- his recognition in the jazz polls, myriad accolades from the critical press, burgeoning numbers of international fans, heady praise from the likes of Diz, Mingus and Mel Lewis, and the pressure of public life -- is it any wonder that a (then) 20-year old Jon Faddis opted for the sequestered life of the studio musician?
However, those studio years ultimately proved significant in his artistic development. Exposure to a diverse spectrum of music helped shape him into the broad-based interpreter and (creator in) African-American idioms that he is today. Jon's distinctive trumpet voice would be heard on albums by performers as disparate as Duke Ellington, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Kool and the Gang, Luther Vandross, Quincy Jones, Billy Joel and Stanley Clarke, to name a few. His horn was heard on the theme of "The Cosby Show," on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood's films "The Gauntlet" and "Bird," and on many commercials. Jon Faddis had become one of the most in-demand session musicians in New York.
A turning point was the invitation from Dizzy to accompany him on a visit to the White House in 1982. The occasion was an "In Performance" ceremony in which Dizzy and several other major American artists showcased young colleagues they believed to be "on the verge of exceptional careers." Jon's participation in the event was apparently enough to convince him he had a lot more to offer than horn section lead on jingles, or the occasional solo (often uncredited) on a lavish studio production of a pop star.
Within a year, he left studio life and was out on the club scene with a working group that included saxophonist Greg Osby and pianist James Williams. In 1987, Jon played the major role in organizing and rehearsing Dizzy's big band, the one that would celebrate the legendary bebopper's 70th birthday on tour here and abroad. Jon was a featured soloist and later assumed the same position as musical director of Dizzy's United Nation Orchestra, another international touring all-star group formed in 1989.
Faddis served as musical director for the Carnegie Hall Centennial Jazz Band, which paved the way to an ongoing gig with the world- renown music hall. He is the musical director of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, an 18-piece all-star orchestra which serves as a vehicle for some of the greatest names in jazz to present concerts that are not part of their regular repertoire. Praised for its swinging sound and tight ensemble work, the Band has paid tributes to Miles Davis, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman and Tito Puente.
Frequently tapped for his conducting prowess, Faddis is also music director of the 1995 Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra "The Majesty of Louis Armstrong Tour" and the "Newport Jazz Festival 40th Anniversary Tour."
Jon Faddis' discography includes the following albums as a leader under his own name: Hornucopia and Into the Faddisphere, both on Epic; Legacy (Concord Jazz); Youngblood (Pablo); and Good and Plenty (Buddha). He was co-billed with Oscar Peterson on Oscar Peterson & Jon Faddis (Pablo); with saxophonist Billy Harper on Jon & Billy and with Clark Terry on Take Double (Phonogram/Japan). He is a featured sideman and soloist on Charles Mingus & Friends (Columbia); Milt Jackson's Bebop (Atlantic); the Illinois Jacquet Big Band's Jacquet's Got It (Atlantic); and Dizzy Gillespie's Montreux (Pablo).