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CCPA jazz ensembles to perform free at Jazz Showcase through April 27

Posted: 03/22/2013
Roosevelt University’s unique Large Jazz, Latin Jazz and New Deal Vocal Ensembles will give two free Spring Showcase performances at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 1 and Tuesday, April 2 at one of Chicago’s premier jazz clubs, the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago.

Tom Garling, a member of the jazz faculty at Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) and a leading trombonist who has performed with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Randy Brecker, Maynard Ferguson and other legendary artists, will lead the Large Jazz Ensemble on April 1 in a performance and premiere of “Song for Alex,” a piece composed by Garling.

Named for the trombonist’s 7-year-old son, “Song for Alex” has a seven/four time meter.  “This is a piece that has taken on a life of its own as a result of the off-beat timing,” said Garling, who believes CCPA’s jazz studies students have benefited from learning to play the odd-meter piece. “”When young players graduate from CCPA and embark on their own careers, they will undoubtedly run into situations where they will have to feel "odd meter" in an organic way, internalize it, and play it with confidence," he said.

WojoJoining the ensemble to perform a number of original compositions and arrangements will be John “Wojo” Wojciechowski (right), a world-renowned tenor saxophonist and local favorite on the Chicago jazz scene.

“It’s been a hard piece to learn, but Tom Garling and “Song for Alex” are amazing. It should be a fun time for all of us,” said Kyle Madsen, a student saxophonist in CCPA’s jazz studies program who credits Garling and other faculty members with providing opportunities like the upcoming Jazz Showcase shows for real-world experience. “A lot of my classmates and I are out every week playing around town and a lot of that has to do with the program and the top-notch faculty,” Madsen said.

Also performing during the April 1 showcase will be Roosevelt’s Latin Ensemble. Led by Roosevelt jazz faculty member Rubén Alvarez, a Chicago-born drummer, Latin percussionist and award-winning composer, the Latin Ensemble at CCPA is one of only a handful of college ensembles in the U.S. that blends traditional Afro-Caribbean sounds and styles with American jazz.

Then on April 2, students in Roosevelt’s New Deal Vocal Jazz Ensemble take the stage for an evening of vocal jazz performed by a 15-member ensemble of singers and instrumentalists. The only jazz vocal college ensemble of its kind in Chicago, the group performs improvisations, deconstructs contemporary songs into new and different arrangements and performs its own students’ compositions as well.

The ensemble is coached by CCPA jazz faculty member Cheryl Wilson, an internationally known recording artist and vocalist who has performed with Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, Bill Withers, Peabo Bryson, Mavis Staples, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Phil Collins, Seal, R. Kelly, Peter Cetera and Whitney Houston, to name just a few. Also an accomplished on violist and pianist, Wilson has performed with the Toledo Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Ravinia Festival and Chicago Jazz Ensemble. She also records TV commercials and writes, arranges and records music for television and film.

NewDealVocalJazz“Every member of the New Deal Vocal Jazz Ensemble (left) wants to be a recording artist when he or she graduates, and to see them come together and sing like this in some very unique and improvisational ways is just amazing,” said Wilson.

Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark,” Harold Arlen’s “I’ve got the World on a String,” Nat King Cole’s “Our Love is Here to Stay,” a number of original student written and arranged compositions as well as an unusually arranged song by Bob Marley are some of the highlights of the April 2 show.

“This is an opportunity to see our talented students before they go on to professional jazz and contemporary music careers,” said Scott Mason, head of jazz and contemporary music at CCPA.

Additional Jazz Showcase shows include: the CCPA Contemporary and Brazilian Combos at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26; the CCPA Vocal Jazz Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27; and CCPA JazzFest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27.  For more information, download the CCPA 2013 Spring Performance Calendar at