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ABOUT THE MUSIC
With one exception, all the tunes here are pretty standard classic-jazz fare. Hazen Schumacher and Jerry Bilik wrote the anthem THE UNIVERSITY for the University of Michigan's 1967 sesquicentennial celebration. (They might not originally have expected to hear it played in quite the way I've arranged it.) Hazen, who hosted the WUOM, and NPR, radio show "Jazz Revisited" for more than 25 years, is a regular at our Friday performances. Jerry Bilik, played, composed and arranged for the U of M bands in the 1950's and 1960's and was Jim's colleague on the music faculty for several years. Jerry's works are still regularly performed by the university's musical groups.
ABOUT THE BAND, MUSICIANS & RECORDING
I am extremely fortunate to work with the fine musicians on this album. The Easy Street Jazz Band has played every Friday at the Firefly since opening night nearly seven years ago, and for about five years before that when the club was the Bird of Paradise. The band has existed since the early 1970's. Its name comes from the fact that I've lived on Easy Street most of the time since I was in junior high school. Everyone in the band is busy with other bands, so it is actually rare when we have exactly the same musicians on stage two Fridays in a row. Many fine guest musicians play with us but only one of them appears on this album: with a little luck we'll get others onto future albums. But you will hear Paul Finkbeiner here. Paul is my go-to guy when I'm on the road with other bands and I'm happy to have some of his singing and playing here.
I would like to thank all the musicians and all the fans that attend so regularly. You have made this project and the two prior ones possible. All our CD's have been recorded live - each one taking tunes from several nights of recording. My personal preference is the excitement and spontaneity of "live" rather than the more accurate but sometimes stilted performance that can result from long hours in a studio. These recordings came from performances from June of 2005 through early October of 2006. We appreciate what Susan Chastain brings to the band as a singer, but also want to acknowledge especially her sense of mission in keeping the Firefly Club—a community treasure with a growing national reputation--a going concern and great performing venue for so many musicians.