Born: September 1, 1972 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Saxophonist Mark O’Connor, an Austin, Texas native, has been part of the Chicago and Milwaukee music scenes since 1996 as a performer, composer and educator. His debut CD on Blujazz productions, Mirage, spent eight weeks on the national jazz radio charts and garnered such praise as “With his hearty sound and bristling ideas, O’Connor can bowl over even a jaded follower of post-bop jazz.” � Neil Tesser, Author, The Playboy Guide to Jazz, and, “A very good saxophonist he is… melodically and rhythmically engaging lines… expressiveness and melodic sensitivity.” � Jazz Times Magazine. O’Connor has performed with such notables as Rufus Reid, Arturo Sandoval, Henry Butler, Steve Turre and Joe Williams. O’Connor’s quintet, formed in 2001, has performed at numerous venues throughout the Midwest including The Green Mill, The Elbo Room, The Skokie Theatre, The Chicago Cultural Center and The Rogers Park Jazz Festival in Chicago; The Elephant Room in Austin, TX and The Jazz Estate in Milwaukee.
As an educator, O’Connor has conducted clinics in Chicago, St. Louis, Whitewater, WI, Austin, TX and Cedar Falls, IA on topics ranging from saxophone playing to jazz improvisation to jazz ensemble playing. He has served as guest artist for the jazz ensemble at St Louis Metro High School, and guest artist and conductor for the Moraine Valley Community College Jazz Ensemble and University of Northern Iowa Jazz Panthers. O’Connor has taught private saxophone lessons for fourteen years at many Chicago area high schools and community colleges such as New Trier High School, Naperville North and Naperville Central High Schools, Lake Zurich High School and Moraine Valley Community College.
At present, he is involved with the band program at Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, IL teaching private saxophone lessons and conducting jazz band; and at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, IL conducting saxophone sectionals and private saxophone lessons. O’Connor holds a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from the University of North Texas where he studied with well known jazz educators Dan Haerle and Fred Hamilton; a Master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from Eastern Illinois University where he studied with New Orleans piano luminary Henry Butler and Chicago pianist and producer of Mirage, Mark Maegdlin. Currently, O’Connor is working on two major projects � his latest CD, Suspended Reality, which will be released this March on OA2 Records; and his doctoral dissertation regarding tenor saxophonist Joe Farrell.
...a stellar first recording. --RUFUS REID, author THE EVOLVING BASSIST
“A very good saxophonist he is… melodically and rhythmically engaging lines… expressiveness and melodic sensitivity.” � Jazz Times Magazine
“A great new cd, it does not contain a bad cut. Already one of my favorites for 2003!” - Bill White, WWOZ, New Orleans
“Excellent” - Jim Wilke, Nationally Syndicated “Jazz After Hours”
“O’Connor’s tone is warm and fat… unison melody lines are outstanding… the compositions on the album are something else.” - Jazz Improv Magazine
“*** (3 stars) This is a bright and promising debut from the saxophonist, who now bases himself in Chicago. His opening number ‘The Beast’ has both excitement and authority, and the title track explores some interesting rhythmic possibilities. O’Connor has assembled a strong roster of players and uses them cleverly to maximize his possibilities on this first-shot record, where it’s forgivable to take on too much and attempt to show off every wrinkle of your playing style. The ballads and standard tunes are less beguiling than the originals, though he gets off a fine version of ‘It’s Easy to Remember’ and then rounds off a very pleasant set with a brisk read of Jackie McLean’s ‘Little Melonae’. - The Penguin Guide to Jazz on cd Seventh Edition by Richard Cook and Brian Morton
“Tenor saxophonist Mark O’Connor (not to be confused with the veteran violinist, guitarist and mandolin player with the same name) should surprise many jazz fans with his striking debut as a leader. Utilizing a rotating cast of talented musicians in either quintet or quartet settings; the Chicago-based musician’s confident and full-bodied sound belies his youth on this post-bop oriented date. Six of the ten selections are his own, especially the challenging, well-named opener (‘The Beast’) and the free-spirited mixed meter ‘Mirage.’ Neither is he a slouch as an interpreter of ballads, which include two works by the matchless team of Rodgers & Hart: a loping treatment of ‘With a Song in My Heart’ and a touching take of ‘It’s Easy to Remember.’ Finally, his driving rendition of Jackie McLean’s ‘Little Melonae’ wraps the CD with a flourish.” � All Music Guide article by Ken Dryden
Tracks: Suspended Reality; A Monk's Dream; Flight of the Birds; Song for Betony; The Sound of Joy; Cady's Groove; Tail of the Sun; Kite Flying; Quiet Snow; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.
Personnel: Mark O'Connor: alto & tenor saxophone. Victor Garcia: trumpet. Ben Lewis: piano. Mark Maegdlin: piano. Jon Paul: bass. Tom Hipskind: drums.
Tracks: The Beast; Blue Soliloquy; Three Up One Down; With a Song in My Heart; Blues for Ethan; It's Easy to Remember; Mirage; Para Tom; Pillows; Little Melonae.
Personnel: Mark O'Connor: tenor saxophone. Tito Carrillo: trumpet & flugelhorn. Ben Lewis: piano. Mark Maegdlin: piano. Jonathan Paul: bass. Larry Kohut: bass. Noel Kupersmith: bass. Dan DeLorenzo: bass. Tom Hipskind: drums. Mike Schlick: drums. Joe Adamik: drums.
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Tinley Park, IL
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.