Mel Lewis (May 10, 1929 - February 2, 1990) was a drummer, jazz musician and band leader. He was born in Buffalo, New York to Russian immigrant parents. His birth name was Melvin Sokoloff. He started playing professionally as a teen, eventually joining Stan Kenton in 1954. His musical career brought him to Los Angeles in 1957 and New York in 1963. In 1966 in New York, he teamed up with Thad Jones to lead the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.