A latter-day big band trombonist, Mel Wanzo played with Woody Herman in the '60s before joining Count Basie, with whom he worked from 1969-1980. Wanzo gained experience playing with such R&B-oriented singers as Joe Turner and Ruth Brown in the '50s; thereafter he worked mainly with big bands. Prior to joining Herman, Wanzo played in the Glenn Miller Orchestra under the direction of Ray McKinley from 1966-1968. He also recorded with the Capp-Pierce Juggernaut in 1981. Wanzo rejoined the Basie band after its leader's death in 1984. He continued with the group during the '80s and '90s under leaders Thad Jones, Frank Foster, and Grover Mitchell.