Born: October 9, 1981 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Tenor saxophonist/composer Christopher Madsen’s musical career is taking flight. He has made an impact during his tenure on the jazz scene, provoking Jay Collins of onefinalnote.com to say, “Madsen is no lightweight” and that he “shows a great deal of promise”. Saxophonist and Maynard Ferguson alum Mark Colby has said, “There's a maturity in the sound of [Chris's] horn, the colors and sonorities...bring back the giants of this music”. His sound has been described as unique and very personal, with “a [Wayne] Shorter-esque sweetness” (Kenneth Egbert, jazznow.com) incorporating a range of influences from Coleman Hawkins through Warne Marsh up to Joe Lovano, and his improvisational style always strives for the organic, his solos at times unraveling themselves by their own free will. A firm knowledge and understanding of the history of the music which he has devoted himself to serves as an underpinning which he hopes will propel him to a successful and fulfilling life in jazz.
Born in Chicago, Madsen’s musical beginnings saw awards early on in the midwest, capturing Oustanding Instrumentalist honors for the Birch Creek Music Festival in 1996 and ’97, as well as Outstanding Soloist awards at the North Shore Jazz Festival in ‘98 and ’99. Madsen is a former member of Rob Parton’s Jazztech Big Band, Ensemble 9, and the Chicago Metro Jazz Orchestra. Since moving to New York in 2003 to attend the Jazz Studies Program at Juilliard he has performed publicly with the Wynton Marsalis Quartet, Paul Simon, Eric Reed, Bobby Short, Jimmy Heath, and Wycliffe Gordon and has performed at venues such as Birdland and the IAJE convention in New York, and the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. He has also performed at the Elkhart and Rockford Jazz Festivals.
Madsen can be heard on numerous recordings with such artists as Kenny Washington, Loren Schoenberg, Jon Gordon, and the Juilliard and DePaul University Jazz Ensembles. His composition “Tao Jones” served as title track to the latter band’s 2004 release. He also recently completed a recording with thriving veteran jazz artists Carl Allen and Ben Wolfe, as co-leader of the Dease-Madsen Quintet.
Madsen is a prolific and award-winning composer, writing actively for groups in Chicago and New York. His writing has been described as “absorbing” (Jay Collins, onefinalnote.com), and he has numerous commissions under his belt. He was a featured young composer in the October 2005 edition of “Jazziz on Disc” for Jazziz Magazine. His compositions also were featured on two releases in 2004: “Two Different Days” by Rob Partons’ Jazztech Big Band and on saxophonist Mark Colby’s recent release “Speaking of Stan”. He has been commissioned to write pieces for guitarist Bobby Broom and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Madsen’s big band writing has garnered acclaim from luminaries such as Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely, and his arrangements can also be heard on an upcoming recording with Loren Schoenberg and his Jazz Orchestra featuring Barbara Lea. He also contributed scoring to the documentary film “Sir John Soane” by the Checkerboard Film Foundation.
Madsen was asked to perform with the Wynton Marsalis Quartet in 2004 for the grand opening of the Jazz at Lincoln Center space in the Time Warner Center, New York. He also performed on the “Shelter From the Storm” televised benefit with singer/songwriter Paul Simon in 2005. He has extensive educational experience, serving as woodwind faculty at Elk Grove High School in Chicago and giving clinics on small group and big band technique. His interest began at an early age, always gravitating towards music and was fortunate enough to set his life on a musical career path while still an early teenager. Madsen looks to a bright future as inspiration for the present.