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New live music series in Macomb

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Origin Records
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courtesy photo
Jazz Night on Our Front Porch will open with trumpet player Tito Carrillo. The program begins at 4:30 p.m. on October 14 and will include a cash bar.

The Western Illinois Museum and the School of Music at Western Illinois University are working together on a series of concerts. The performances will be held at the museum’s Our Front Porch.

Four concerts are currently scheduled:

Each artist will be backed up by the HAT Trio, which consists of WIU jazz faculty members Matt Hughes on bass, Whitney Ashe on piano, and George Turner on guitar.
Ashe, who also directs WIU’s Jazz Studies program, said the series is rooted in his desire to accomplish a couple goals.

“I wanted to create something where we could bring in a lot of guest artists to work with the students, especially focusing on small group playing,” Ashe said.

“And I also wanted to create a space for some of our faculty to get out and be heard a little bit more.”

Our Front Porch is being moved into the southeast part of the museum building in downtown Macomb. It’s the space where musicians performed during the museum’s speakeasy events prior to the pandemic.

Museum Director Sue Scott said she hopes the series becomes a place where the community can interact with WIU music faculty and enjoy live music together.

“Our Front Porch is just a really comfortable place where we come together and learn from each other, which is at the heart of this project. And in this case, it really helps our community grow an appreciation for jazz and our local musicians,” Scott said.

“You don’t know what you’re going to see or hear. You might think you don’t like jazz, but I think this is an opportunity to learn something or hear something you never heard before in a new way.”

Admission is a $5 suggested donation at the door. Funding also comes from the Performing Arts Society, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Macomb & Jazz

Macomb has an important tie to the world of jazz. Tenor saxophonist and bandleader Al Sears was born in Macomb in 1910 and grew up in the community.

“We had a jazz series for a number of years to honor his work in jazz and rock ‘n’ roll,” Scott said.

Ashe added, “He was certainly part of the forefront of jazz and he played with everybody. He played in Duke Ellington’s band for a long time and did his own records.”

Ashe said Sears got involved with rock ‘n’ roll when that genre became popular in the 1950s. He said Sears wrote hit songs, produced records, and played many of the signature rock’ ‘n’ roll saxophone solos.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.