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A Rarity Who “Swings Like Mad”: The Marlene Rosenberg Quartet, January 21 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 17 January 2007 02:19

There have been only a few bass players who have led jazz bands. Among the first was Oscar Pettiford. The best known was Charlie Mingus, who was also one of the great jazz composers. Ray Brown fronted mostly jazz trios. Christian McBride is one of the latest bassists leading a jazz band.

It's even more rare for a female bass player to lead a jazz band, but Chicago's Marlene Rosenberg has been doing just that. She will bring her quartet of highly talented jazz musicians to the River Music Experience's Redstone Room on January 21 to open up the 2007 Third Sunday Jazz Matinée & Workshop Series. The day's events include a workshop and a public performance.

Marlene Rosenberg has emerged as one of the most talented jazz bass players on the scene today. As a veteran sideman, she has performed with greats such as Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, David "Fathead" Newman, Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, Monty Alexander, Marian McPartland, Tootie Heath, Joe Williams, Kevin Mahogany, and Nancy Wilson.

Rosenberg was featured on legendary jazz drummer Eddie Thigpen's Easy Flight CD. "What makes Marlene special is her strength and depth in understanding of music," Thigpen has said. "In a world of clones, she has managed to emerge as her own person with her own sound and feel. Her time feel is steady and swings like mad."

She began clarinet studies at the age of 10 and took up the electric bass in high school. She began acoustic bass at the University of Illinois, where she was awarded the Smith Memorial Women's Scholarship in 1977 and the University of Illinois Bass/Viola Scholarship two years in a row. In 1985, Marlene received a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Fellowship grant, which she used for private study under Ron Carter, Mike Richmond, Hal Galper, and Jim McNeeley. Marlene received a master's degree in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University in 1999.

In addition to teaching privately and giving workshops in Chicago-area high schools, Rosenberg has been involved with the Ravinia Jazz Mentors program in Windy City public schools. Rosenberg is on the music faculties of Northern Illinois University (teaching jazz bass) and Roosevelt University (teaching jazz bass and combo).

Marlene made her debut as a leader and composer on Waimea, on the Bassline label. Her latest CD - Pieces of ... , also on Bassline - features pianist Cedar Walton and tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson.

The quartet that she'll be bringing to the Quad Cities features three other distinguished performers: Geof Bradfield on saxophone, Jo Ann Daugherty on piano, and Charles Heath IV on drums.

Bradfield, originally from Houston, earned a master's degree in music at the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California. While there and during periods he spent in Brooklyn and Chicago, he studied and performed with such luminaries as bassists Charlie Haden and Avishai Cohen, drummers Albert "Tootie" Heath and Matt Wilson, saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Joe La Barbera, trumpeters Arturo Sandoval and Leo Smith, and pianist David Hazeltine.

Daugherty currently teaches at Chicago's Roosevelt University and is co-founder of the Chicago Composers Collective. She has performed with John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Howard Levy, and Jeff Hamilton. Her latest CD, Range of Motion on the Blujazz label, earned a spot on the NPR Jazz Week Top 50.

And Heath is noted for performing many styles of music in addition to jazz, including R&B, gospel, and Latin. He has performed with such jazz greats as Von Freeman, Billy Harper, Kidd Jordan, Oliver Lake, Donald Byrd, Corey Wilkes, Slide Hampton, and McCoy Tyner.


Marlene Rosenberg's one-hour workshop for all ages begins at 3 p.m. in the Redstone Room; admission is $3 for students and $5 for adults. Admission for the 6 p.m. performance is $10 per person.

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