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Jazz Community
A swinging 18-piece big band, led by Marianne May

Jazz Community is an 18-piece big band playing the music of Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Thad Jones, Duke Ellington and many others. The band was established in 1976 by its late founder and director, trumpet player and music educator, Bill May. The band was originally called the Norridge-Harwood Heights Community Jazz Band, due to the locale of its origin; Bill and most of the original band members were students or alumni of Ridgewood High School, in Norridge, IL. By the late 1970's, the band changed its name to Jazz Community.

The Band, 1983
The Band, circa 1983
photo by BJ Surtz

The Basie band, with its tight ensemble work and excellent dynamics, was the model upon which Bill built the band. For 12+ years, Jazz Community played weekly at several restaurants and supper clubs, notably the Snuggery in Edison Park, Freddie's in Mount Prospect, Nielsen's in Elmwood Park, Culpepper's in Harwood Heights, and Who Are Those Guys? in Lisle, as well as many outdoor festivals, street fairs, private events, and weddings throughout the Chicagoland area. With Bill's untimely passing in the fall of 1991, Jazz Community disbanded.

In the fall of 2011, under the leadership of Bill's sister, Marianne May, and with several charter members in tow, Jazz Community reunited for a one-time event to honor Bill on the twentieth anniversary of his passing and to celebrate the musical contributions he made to the many lives he touched. With that successful reunion under its belt, the band decided it was time to get back on the jazz scene. With May at the helm, and co-music directors Phil Feo and Leo Kawczinski, Jazz Community is now back on track, swinging hard and delighting Chicagoland big band fans once again.

The Band, 2012
The Band, circa 2012
photo by David Gross


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