Personnel: Phil Woods (alto saxophone); Drew Pierson (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Drew Pierson (clarinet); Nick Mazzarella, Lena Lien (alto saxophone); Rick Deja (baritone saxophone); Gerald Bailey, Justin Surdyn, Jeff Kienstra, Joe Clark (flugelhorn); Ryan Kienstra, Andrew Zelm (trombone); Ben Dockery (piano); Justin Thomas (vibraphone); Cory Biggerstaff (bass guitar); Lawrence Haskin (drums); Scott Hesse (guitar); Anthony Bruno (flute, tenor saxophone); Dan Jonas (trumpet, flugelhorn); Bob Lark (flugelhorn); Bryant Scott (trombone); Brian Honsberger (bass trombone).
Audio Mixers: Thomas Miller; Bob Lark.
Recording information: Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL (05/16/2006-05/18/2006).
Director: Bob Lark.
Arrangers: Chris Madsen; Rob McConnell; Thomas Matta.
At the time this recording was made in the spring of 2006, the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble was one of the top college jazz bands. With tight ensembles and inspired solos by its members, the big band is heard live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, directed by veteran educator Bob Lark, who is also a fine trumpeter and flugelhornist. The band backs veteran alto saxophonist Phil Woods on the first seven selections, a musician who knows a potent group when he hears it. Woods is obviously very familiar with the songs, most of which he has played for decades, including standards like "It's You or No One" (played in a breezy post-bop setting while retaining the flavor of an Irish jig), pieces from his days with Quincy Jones (including the Count Basie-like swinger "Stockholm Sweetnin'"), plus Jim McNeely's challenging "Rosenwind," which also showcases a fiery solo by trumpeter Dan Jonas. But with or without Woods' presence, the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble leaves the lasting impression that its future alumni will make important contributions to the bands they join in the future. ~ Ken Dryden