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Jazz Lab Band will perform April 16

April 11, 2012
Mark Colby

Mark Colby

NIU’s Jazz Lab Band, directed by Rodrigo Villanueva, will perform its last concert of the spring semester at 8 p.m. Monday, April 16, in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall of the NIU Music Building.

The concert will feature Chicago jazz legend Mark Colby on tenor saxophone.

This concert will also serve as the official CD release of “Quintessence,” the first NIU Jazz Lab Band album. Recorded last year at NIU, the CD was produced by Villanueva and co-produced and engineered by Dan Nichols.

“Quintessence” will be available at the concert. Proceeds from the sales of NIU jazz recordings benefit NIU School of Music and are used to support the Jazz Studies program through scholarships, public performances, recording, tours and related activities.

Monday’s concert is free and open to the public, and the auditorium is accessible to all.

Jazz Lab Band members will perform a wide variety of styles within the jazz genre, including works by Billy Strayhorn, Wayne Shorter, Thad Jones, Neil Hefti, Johnny Mandel, Frank Mantooth, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk.

This year, the Lab includes many new and talented members, including two students from DeKalb High School and many outstanding freshmen. The band regularly participates in jazz festivals and competitions, and performs at least six concerts per academic year. The Jazz Lab Band recently received second place in the College Big Band division at the renowned UW-Eau Claire Jazz Festival.

Colby comes from a musical family, as his father was a professional drummer who played for Benny Goodman in the 1940s.

In 1962, his family moved to Miami, Florida, where he began playing professionally at age 14. On Miami Beach, he had the opportunity to play shows with popular acts, including Tony Bennett, Sonny and Cher, Bill Cosby, Ann-Margret and Sammy Davis Jr. with seasoned musicians. For many years, he was the youngest guy on the bandstand, all the while pursuing his desire to play all styles of jazz.

He later attended the University of Miami, enrolling in Jerry Coker’s Jazz Studies program. While in college, he recorded with the likes of Dr. John, Wilson Pickett and the Bee Gees.

After graduating with a master’s degree in Jazz Studies, he received a call from Maynard Ferguson inviting him to join his band in New York. After three albums and three years touring as featured soloist and musical director with Ferguson, he became of member of the “James gang.”

Colby also has played with such varied luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Jaco Pastorius, Mose Allison, Joe Williams and Charlie Haden.

For more information on Monday’s concert, contact Lynn Slater at (815) 753-1546 or [email protected].