Saturday, 21 December 2013

Northern Illinois Jazz Ensemble Part 1: Magic Carpet Ride (USA, 1977)

From the Northern Illinois University (located in DeKalb, Illinois) website:

With a roster that includes students from Miami to Milwaukee, the NIU Jazz Ensemble has long been considered one of the best college jazz bands in the world. The ensemble performed at the 54th annual Midwest Music Clinic in Chicago with saxophonist Jimmy Heath as the guest artist, and at the 28th annual International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) Conference in New York with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis as the guest artist. During the summer of 2001 the band performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, at the Jazz à  Vienne Festival in France, and at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The list of guest artists with whom the ensemble has performed includes Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Tito Puente and James Moody, just to name a few. In the summer of 1996 the NIU Jazz Ensemble performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland as Quincy Jones’s big band with guest artists Phil Collins, Patti Austin, David Sanborn, Gerald Albright, Chaka Kahn, Toots Theilman and James Morrison. 
Very impressive.   Moreover If you look at their discography they put out quite a few albums.  I have only two of them, this one and the next called Space Train which will be up next.  Please note the 1985 album sadly entitled "Jazz Lives" which, every year that passes, becomes more mordantly pathetic, especially when I make the mistake of attending our local yearly summer jazz festival and, surrounded by grey-haired overweight men in ridiculous goatees and Tilley hats with their hunchbacked wives attempting to dance around in circles whenever they play an old Benny Goodman song that has been played millions of times before without falling and breaking their hips, I realize this art-form is slowly dying due to a total lack of creativity.
Looking at the back I was surprised to see no African-American faces at all in this jazz band, despite their credit for creating this style of music.  Well I better leave that area alone.  Moving on to the music, there are a couple of interesting (read progressive) tracks, I'll sample my favourite which is the title track, Magic Carpet Ride.

 I will post the other album that I have from them, Space Train, this coming week.