Recommended Recordings

Mr. De Stefano's Friends

Brunch Brunch
Sam Stryke
Razz Records

Sam is a graduate of Northwestern University and is a very successful commercial and film composer in Chicago.

About Brunch (by Sam Stryke):
With my Brunch CD I wanted to capture a consistently sunny and optimistic morning vibe. I wanted to create a lifestyle CD—a soundtrack for coffee, reading the news and settling into your own personal comfort zone on a casual morning.

A number of tracks like “Java Jive,” “Up-N-Atm” and “Double Shot” (of espresso!) have really infectious grooves and energy. They just feel great to play! I really like the end of “Up-N-Atm” and “Double Shot” where we just keep jamming and pouring more energy into it. If the music didn’t fade it could go on for quite a while and probably will in the live performance!.

“Glow” and “Daybreak” are all about the early morning vibe: the inner peace that you have as you see the sun rise, the comfort of relaxing in your favorite chair, the hopeful outlook for a brand new day..

“Me Time” is about curling up with that cup of coffee and having some space to yourself. It puts you in a nice frame of mind to gather your thoughts and energy for the day..

“On My Way,” “Drive” and “Anthem” are windows-down driving tunes that give you that great feeling of freedom. The wind in you hair (or in my case on my head), the sun on your face and the open road ahead that beckons you on as you thump your hand on the steering wheel..

“Blueberry Girl” was written for my mother. One of her favorite things is to pick blueberries in Michigan and, of course, eat them. This tender and sweet piece was a birthday gift to her and I wanted to include it on the CD so that I could share it with everyone.

Vortex Vortex
Matt Olson

The amazing debut recording of Matt Olson, professor of saxophone at Furman University, former classmate of mine at Northwestern University, and Best Man at our wedding!

From the liner notes:

"This is a recording by a wonderful and talented musician by the name of Matt Olson. It’s a true collaboration: gifted individuals coming together to make expressive music. I believe this kind of collaboration is the very thing that makes jazz so magical...

Musicians like Matt and his colleagues on this CD are rare indeed. The motivation for these performers is to interpret, to express, and to communicate – both to each other and to the listener – to make music! There is no need for these players to show off; they are too secure for that. Besides, they are able to use their technical prowess as a means for heartfelt expression. In my humble opinion, they are artists."

Crossroads Crossroads
Tim Coffman
Blujazz Records

Tim is one of the most active trombonists and teachers in the Chicago area. Mr. Coffman is currently on the Jazz Studies faculty at DePaul University. There he teaches Jazz Trombone, Jazz Improvisation, Jazz History, Low Brass Techniques and coaches Jazz Combos.

Keeping My Composure Keeping My Composure
Charley Harrison
C3 Records

This is Charley Harrison's, Evanston native and Northwestern University graduate, Debut CD! He conducts the Chicago Jazz Orchestra on eleven of his compositions and arrangements. Featured guest artists include: Freddy Cole, Kurt Elling, Frieda Lee, Cedar Walton, Bobby Broom and Sara Gazarek.

Speaking in Tongues Speaking in Tongues
Michael Kocour

Michael Kocour is an Associate Professor and the Director of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University’s Herberger College of Fine Arts. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most sophisticated pianists in jazz,” Kocour has performed at the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, the Blue Note in New York, and the Chicago, Montreal and Quebec City Jazz festivals. Among the many artists and ensembles with whom he has appeared are Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Harris, James Moody, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan, Carl Fontana, Dewey Redman, Lew Tebackin, and the Chicago Symphony.