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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Salutes Woody Herman

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Anecdotes of all kinds about bandleader Woody Herman-- whose centennial is celebrated this year--circulate among musicians and fans to this day. From them, we deduce that “The Chopper" had a straight-razor tongue, wry humor, and less-than-zero patience for disingenuous fan-fawning over himself or his band's celebrity. Even as road-weary big bands faded from the scene and Herman's unfortunate financial straits overwhelmed him, with Woody it was always about the music. All ways. With Salutes Woody Herman, The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble with Jeff Hamilton and other guests holds eminently true to Herman's music-centric philosophy. It is a very ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Depaul University Jazz Ensemble: Salutes Woody Herman

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Were he still with us, bandleader Woody Herman would have turned one hundred years young on May 16, 2013. What better way, then, to mark the occasion than by doing something that made “the Chopper" happier than anything else: swinging hard and often. Chicago's DePaul University Jazz Ensemble does precisely that on this superb album comprised of eleven memorable themes associated with Herman and his Herds from the 1940s and '50s, thanks in part to the towering presence of a special guest, drummer Jeff Hamilton, a Herman alumnus who drives the band ever onward with passion and power.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jeff Hamilton with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Time Passes On

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One of the premier college jazz bands in the country joins forces with one of the most significant big band drummers alive today for Time Passes On, as the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble invites Grammy Award-winning drummer Jeff Hamilton for a live recording at Chicago's legendary Jazz Showcase. Under the leadership of Bob Lark, a renowned trumpeter and Director of Jazz Studies at DePaul University, DePaul's jazz ensemble has often performed with jazz icons contributing to their curriculum. Hamilton is now part of that history and provides two compositions for this date, of which the emotional remembrance ballad title track ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Phil Woods / DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Swingchronicity

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Not your average university jazz band or your typical recording of oft-heard standards, Swingchronicity represents a musical collaboration between one of the finest university jazz bands in the country and a jazz legend. Under the direction of Bob Lark, trumpeter and Director of Jazz Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble is heard live at Chicago's Jazz Showcase with special guest, world-renowned alto great Phil Woods.

Producing an unbelievable sound for a college level group, one gets the sense that you've just heard from the up-and-coming jazz starts of the future. Woods' brilliance is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Phil Woods / DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Swingchronicity

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Nothing is perfect, so the saying goes, and thus it follows that one can, in theory, always find something to disparage or take issue with in any work of art or piece of music. While that may be true, on a scale of one to ten, Swingchronicity warrants at least an eleven. This is, after all, Phil Woods, one of the world's greatest living jazz musicians, weaving his incomparable magic in a breathtaking concert performance at Chicago's Jazz Showcase with one of the country's most honored undergraduate groups, the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, a tasteful and dynamic recital that is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: American Express

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DePaul University’s Jazz Studies program, always a good one, has really hit its stride in the past couple of years with a number of superlative albums by the Jazz Ensemble under director Bob Lark, the most recent of which is this invigorating concert with the renowned composer / valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer taped in May ‘01 at Joe Segal’s venerable Jazz Showcase in Chicago. Four of the seven compositions are Brookmeyer’s, three of them written for and previously recorded by his German–based New Art Orchestra. The exception is “American Express,” written in 1979–80 for the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Legacy

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Having taken a short trip across town to Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase to record its last album in concert, the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble returns to the studio for Legacy, where it is joined (on the last four tracks) by an honored guest, big–band drummer extraordinaire Louie Bellson. Louie wrote (and presents drum clinics on) all of those tunes starting with the aptly named and coolly swinging “Brush Taps” and including “Boston Express,” “LOROELMA” and “Legacy.” Bellson, one of the most lyrical of big–band timekeepers, knows when to use the whip and when to let an ensemble run freely, which ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Live at the Jazz Showcase

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I hear a lot these days about how college students are being taught Jazz–by–the–numbers instead of how to think and react creatively in an extemporaneous situation, but I simply can’t buy into that line of reasoning, especially when listening to a group of young musicians as sharp and audacious as those in director Bob Lark’s Chicago–based DePaul University Jazz Ensemble who show clearly on Live at the Jazz Showcase that they’d give any big band, college or pro, a pulse–pounding run for its money. This is immediately apparent on Thad Jones’ “Little Pixie II,” an incessantly arduous chart that the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Shade Street

In addition to heading the Chicago Skyliners Big Band, Bill O'Connell has a record label which he uses not only for his own productions but from time to time to put to disc the offerings of local university jazz groups. This time he has captured two separate sessions by the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble. Under the leadership of Jazz Study Coordinator Bob Lark and a hefty faculty roster, this group offers an hour of challenging and exciting music. Perhaps not on the same level of experienced jazz professionals, but what it lacks in finesse (and it lacks little of that) ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Shade Street

In addition to heading the Chicago Skyliners Big Band, Bill O'Connell has a record label which he uses not only for his own productions but from time to time to put to disc the offerings of local university jazz groups. This time it's two separate sessions by the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble. Under the leadership of Jazz Study Coordinator Bob Lark and a hefty faculty roster, this group offers an hour of challenging and exciting music. Perhaps not on the same level of experienced jazz professionals, what it lacks in finesse (and it lacks little of that) it more than ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Shade Street

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One of the things I admire most about contemporary college Jazz ensembles is their willingness to expand the repertoire beyond the tried–and–true standards, whether Jazz or popular, and address themselves to newer compositions, and not necessarily those whose waters are most easily navigated. On Shade Street, director Bob Lark’s impressive ensembles (1997–98) from DePaul University in downtown Chicago unravel sophisticated charts by Tom Matta, Vance Thompson, Mike Abene, Doug Angelaccio and Lark himself before wrapping things up with Johnny Mercer/Jimmy Van Heusen’s enchanting ballad, “I Thought About You” (arranged by saxophonist Dave Hutten). Three of the selections were written by ...



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