Chicago Tribune: Dave Douglas meets Columbia students in bold new music

By Howard Reich

There's nothing more inspiring in jazz than watching young musicians sharing a stage with a master composer-improviser.

Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune

Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune

That happens periodically at the Jazz Showcase, when a collegiate band appears alongside a noted soloist, but on Thursday night there was a new twist to the formula: The students didn't just play the scores – they wrote them.

For the past several months, members of the Columbia College Jazz Ensemble have been penning and polishing their big-band compositions and rehearsing them with Dave Douglas, one of the most admired trumpeters in jazz. Douglas has been flying to Chicago periodically to develop the work with the students, who are being taught by Columbia's director of jazz studies, Scott Hall.

So when the band took the stage at the Showcase, they carried a triple load as composers, performers and partners of a major jazz artist. They did so with aplomb.

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