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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
December 3, 2008
DeKalb — Members of the legendary NIU Jazz Ensemble are throwing a party to celebrate their new CD, and all of Chicagoland is invited.
Considered one of the nation’s best, the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble will play two shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct. in Chicago. Also taking the stage at the Midwest’s premier jazz club that night are student vocalist Travaulya Wallace, the NIU Liberace Jazztet and faculty of the NIU jazz studies program.
Director Ron Carter will sell copies of the new CD, “The Life of Swing,” at a discount to NIU alumni who make the gig.
“This CD was recorded live on our 2004 tour,” says Carter, head of jazz studies in the NIU School of Music. “I just went back over some of our recordings from that tour and selected 12 tunes I thought fit together, program-wise and quality-wise.”
Carter calls students in this year’s Jazz Ensemble, fresh off tours with drummer Louis Bellson and trombonist Curtis Fuller, a “strong and mature group.”
Monday’s show will include tunes from “The Life of Swing” as well as from Bellson’s latest disc and Fuller’s stage repertoire. Spring tours are planned in February with trumpeter Lew Soloff and in April with National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master saxophonist Benny Golson.
All follow in the footsteps of 40 years of jazz excellence in DeKalb. Some of the nation’s top high school jazz musicians – and many undergraduate, graduate and professional players – come to NIU to gain a piece of that heritage.
“NIU jazz is special because of the level of our commitment to the jazz tradition while still maintaining an extraordinary level of progressive creativity,” Carter says. “I perform and clinic with bands all over the country and in Canada. Students meet me and other jazz faculty. They also know of us through the recordings we’ve made in the past.”
The NIU Liberace Jazztet boasts not only its largest group ever – seven members, including four rhythm section players and three horns – but, to Carter’s ears, one of its best.
Now enjoying it eighth consecutive year of support from the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, with a 2008-09 award of $13,000, the group is planning a March tour of Indiana and a return engagement at the Peru Jazz Festival.
“Our piano player has already toured internationally with jazz and pop artists such as Kanye West,” Carter says. “Our bass player recorded on will.i.am’s Grammy-winning CD. Our drummer and featured saxophonist have been performing professionally for over 10 years.”
For more information, visit www.niu.edu/music or call (815) 753-1551.
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