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Knox Jazz Ensemble


Nicole Malley

Associate Professor & Chair of Music

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999


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The award winning Knox Jazz Enemble is extremely active. In the fall the group hosts the Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency, a week-long immersive experience with some of the leading jazz musicians of today, including Maria Schneider, Marquis Hill and Ben Allison. In Galesburg, the group plays frequently, often hosting other area big bands for evenings at the Fat Fish, a local bar and restaurant. These include bands such as the Galesburg High School and Bradley University's big band. The group competes successfully every winter in collegiate jazz festivals, usually competing with schools many times the size of Knox. In addition, the Knox Jazz Ensemble goes on international tours every four years, most recently to Beijing and Xian, China.

In the spring, the band hosts the annual five-day Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival (named after Galesburg native Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories), with performances at both the Fat Fish Pub and Galesburg's restored Orpheum Theater. Past guest artists featured with the band include:

  • Gretchen Parlato
  • Julian Lage
  • Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band
  • Matt Wilson
  • Anat Cohen
  • Kurt Elling
  • Youngblood Brass Band

The Knox Jazz Ensemble has been singled out by many of these guest artists for its obvious enjoyment of the music and the close-knit group formed on campus. Many participants in the band live in the Jazz House—a permanent theme house on campus.

The band has three compact discs, No Excuses and Assorted Pre-Concert Rituals , and is featured on the combined big band and small groups CD: Mr. B-Natural. Most recently, original compositions and arrangements by students in the ensemble were featured on the latest CD from the Cherry Street Ensemble, A Dedication.

The Knox Jazz Ensemble meets three times a week and its membership is audition based. About half of the group's members at any given time are music majors, but it is not a necessary requirement to audition. Auditions are held at the beginning of each school year.

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Printed on Thursday, October 17, 2019