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Here’s a musical treat for Aurora jazz fans

DeenBess Sherman

Deena Bess Sherman

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Updated: December 24, 2012 6:30AM

I know there are plenty of jazz fans in Aurora. I saw hundreds at West Aurora High School’s annual Jazz Coffeehouse on Monday. As you know, many of West’s best players will go on to become teachers, conductors, and professional musicians. Often they move to places where we unfortunately don’t get to hear the wonderful things they do. Happily, though, tomorrow (Saturday) night you can hear West jazz alumni Dan Chase (‘08) and Hans Luchs (‘07) back in their hometown, playing at Hounds Blue Moon Restaurant.

When I asked about his influences at West, Chase answered, “I grew up in the band program with Mike Fagan and Chuck Garland directing throughout grade school and high school . . . the band definitely helped me learn to play in a group setting and listen to the other players. In high school I got a lot of experience playing in the jazz bands under the direction of Patty Sampson. Playing in the big band stressed the importance of communication and having the rhythm section ‘lock in’ together.”

Chase also studied classical piano in Aurora for over 10 years under the instruction of Marilyn Parolini, jazz with Gibby Monocoski at Waubonsee Community College, and also attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At 18 he started performing regularly with Shirley King (daughter of blues legend B.B. King). Chase teaches students from elementary school to adults at Excel Music in North Aurora.

Hans Luchs, has been playing professionally in and around Chicago since graduating. His BA in musical performance is from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2011, the Jazz Institute of Chicago selected Hans to perform in its annual “Young Lions” concert. He is now working on his master’s degree in jazz studies at Chicago’s DePaul University. He maintains a guitar studio for private lessons in addition to teaching lessons and clinics at several schools and music institutions.

Phil Fornett, the third member of the group, has been playing drums for over 20 years. He studied music performance at Northern Illinois University and music education at Chicago State University. He is currently working as an outreach music teacher for Suzuki Orff School for young musicians in the Chicago Public Schools, teaching literacy through music. He also teaches for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic as an after school drum line instructor and gives private drum lessons. He notes, “I have also had the pleasure of performing with renowned musical legends such as Billy Preston and Stevie Wonder.”

Individually and as a group they’ve played at some of Chicago’s bigger clubs like Andy’s and the Jazz Showcase, plus many restaurants around Chicago, Downers Grove, and St. Charles.

When I heard them play together as the “Dan Chase Organ Trio,” I was just blown away. At one point they asked if there were any requests from the audience. My husband gave a quick wave and suggested, “Take Five.” Without hesitation they launched into a rendition like nothing I’d ever heard, full of improv at a level few groups could duplicate. Each solo was stunning in its own right, and the way it all fell together was downright magical.

When I asked Chase to describe what they do, he answered, “Well, most of what we do can be called jazz, with emphasis on improvisation. We play of range of styles including pop and R&B; most of the time we play our own arrangements of these. The most important thing is for every tune to have part of our own personality in it.”

The trio will play at Hounds (2124 West Galena Blvd.) from 8 p.m. to midnight in the main dining room. There is no cover. There will be a special menu of hors d’oeuvres during the performance, but I recommend arriving earlier for a full dinner before the show. Come enjoy our homegrown talent!

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