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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: HUJE 2018

Read "HUJE 2018" reviewed by Jack Bowers

One sure sign of spring is the arrival of the latest yearly recording by the superb Howard University Jazz Ensemble, a tradition that dates without pause from the days of vinyl in 1976, one year after the ensemble was formed by its first and only music director, Fred Irby III. For archivists and numbers-crunchers, that's forty-four years and counting. Unlike some of its precursors, HUJE 2018 is entirely instrumental; it does, however, include the usual measure of ...

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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: HUJE 2015

Read "HUJE 2015" reviewed by Jack Bowers

In 1975, Howard University, a bulwark of higher education in our nation's capital since 1867, formed its first Jazz Ensemble and named a young trumpeter / educator, Fred Irby III, as director. One year later, Irby ushered the ensemble into a recording studio to verify its prowess, a tradition that has continued uninterrupted for forty years. Irby remains at the helm today, and HUJE 2015 is the latest in an ever-expanding catalogue of impressive albums produced by the university's flagship ...

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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: HUJE 2014

Read "HUJE 2014" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Another year, another splendid album by the exemplary Howard University Jazz Ensemble from Washington, DC. Not that that should surprise anyone; Fred Irby III, who is completing his fortieth year as the band's first and only director, has ushered his students into a recording studio for the last thirty-nine of them, dating back to the days of vinyl records, with essentially similar results: tasteful albums of big-band jazz that are as engaging as those produced by any university-level ensemble anywhere. ...

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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: Journey of a Friend

Read "Journey of a Friend" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Although the Howard University Jazz Ensemble isn't quite as dependable as a morning sunrise, it has been present and accounted for in a recording studio once each year since it was formed in 1976 by Fred Irby III, who not only directed that first session but has supervised every one since, right up to No. 37, Journey of a Friend, which showcases the 2012 ensemble in a typically engaging album dedicated in part to the memory of former student Dianne ...

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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: Here's to Life!

Read "Here's to Life!" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Every year, almost like clockwork, director Fred Irby III sends me a copy of the Howard University Jazz Ensemble's latest recording, and I am always pleased and happy to be reminded that an undergraduate big band of this caliber resides and plays in my hometown (as a boy growing up in Washington, DC, I lived within walking distance of the Howard campus--but I did a lot more walking in those days).

Here's to Life! is the seventeenth album (since 1989) ...

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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: HUJE '05

Read "HUJE '05" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Another year, another superb recording by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble from our nation's capital. Director Fred Irby and the ensemble have been dropping by the studio for many years now (my library includes all but one of their annual albums dating back to 1989), and each new entry in the scrapbook perpetuates the impressive musical standard of those that preceded it.

HUJE '05 is certainly no exception to that rule, encompassing nine admirable selections by the ensemble, four more ...

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The Howard University Jazz Ensemble: Grace Notes: HUJE 2004

Read "Grace Notes: HUJE 2004" reviewed by Jack Bowers

There's a lot to be said for continuity. The Howard University Jazz Ensemble, formed thirty years ago, has had only one director, Fred Irby III. For 29 of those years, Irby has taken the ensemble into a recording studio to produce an album, the most recent of which is Grace Notes, or HUJE 2004. Although the personnel varies from year to year, as it must in any college-level orchestra, the overall excellence of the music is notably consistent, thanks to ...


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