The Metropolitan Jazz Octet is the reawakening of a group that was originally started in the 1950’s by saxophonist and arranger Tom Hilliard. 


MJO and Dee Alexander will soon release “It's Too Hot for Words" on Delmark Records. 





past & present


Today the  Metropolitan Jazz Octet is the reawakening of a group that was originally started in the 1950’s by saxophonist & arranger Tom Hilliard.


From the late 50's through 80's Hilliard wrote many of the group's 150 (+) charts. He also worked with Chicago’s top arrangers to expand the library.


In 1959, the MJO recorded an album on the Argo label called “The Legend of Bix,” a tribute to 1920's cornetist and composer Bix Beiderbecke. 

As a professor at De Paul University School of Music, Hilliard taught three members of the current MJO to whom he bequeathed his musical library, passing the torch to the next generation. Now led by Jim Gailloreto, John Kornegay and Bob Sutter. MJO is made up of eight talented musicians who are active in jazz and music education in the Chicago area.


This current group started exploring Tom Hilliard’s library in 2014, and has since expanded to include new works from MJO members.


These eight musicians join to create a unique and fresh contribution to the spirit of jazz.



John has a rich career as a performer, composer and arranger. He has performed with legends like Tony Bennett, Doc Severinsen, Bernadette Peters and Chita Rivera. He has written for John Frigo on the Tonight Show, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Purdue University Choirs’. He composed and orchestrated the Academy Award-nominated Holocaust documentary, “Eyewitness”.

John Kornegay- alto sax

Doug Scharf has played trumpet for live shows with Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Elton John, Burt Bacharach, Glen Campbell, Lady Gaga, George Benson, Clark Terry, Kennedy Center Awards, Chicago Jazz Orchestra. In LA he recorded several movie and TV show soundtracks, and was in the house band on "Late Show with Joan Rivers." He has written for Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Cher, Thomas Dolby, Phil Ramone, Fox TV "Late Show with Joan Rivers," and Me-TV's "Svengoolie."

Doug Scharf - trumpet

Doug Bistrow received his degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  He has performed with Itzhak Perlman, the Silk Road Ensemble, Edgar Meyer, Howard Levy, Time For Three, Johnny Osborne, Ky-Mani Marley, Corey Chisel, Keith & Tex, and many others. Bistrow is a member of the Chicago Philharmonic, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. Bistrow is on the faculty at Vandercook College of Music and the Merit School of Music.

Doug Bistrow- bass

Jim has performed with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Lyric Opera  and Fulcrum Point. Jim has worked with, Fred Hersch, Patricia Barber, John McLean, Grazyna Auguscik, and many more. His string arrangements can be heard on Kurt Elling's Grammy award winning CD “Dedicated To You”.

Jim Gailloreto - tenor sax

Russ Phillips, trombonist, was born in Denver, but grew up and studied in the Chicago area after his Father, Russ Phillips, Sr. left Louis Armstrong’s All Stars as trombonist for 1-1/2 years. Continuing in the tradition, Russ has become a well known and respected performer in Chicago and nationally. He’s been a featured artist in numerous festivals, cruises and concerts appearing with Howard Alden, Harry Allen, Doc Cheatham, Kenny Davern,The Four Freshman and others.

Russ Phillips - trombone

Bob Rummage is one of the busiest musicians in Chicago. He has performed with many internationally known musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, Benny Golson, Buddy DeFranco, Bela Fleck and Mississippi blues man, Mose Allison. He is currently the percussion director at Elmhurst College. Mr. Rummage is a much sought after clinician having made appearances at various high schools and colleges.

Bob Rummage - drums

Born in Davenport, Iowa to public school music teachers, Peter Brusen studied both the saxophone and the bassoon from a young age. After attending the University of Iowa, he began his professional career with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Veracruz in Mexico. Since then, he has performed with The Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera, Grant Park Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and Grand Rapids Symphony. 

Peter Brusen - baritone sax

At DePaul University, Bob met Tom Hilliard and played in the big band under his direction. While Bob loathes writing about himself in the third person, he has nonetheless managed to work as a pit musician for approximately 35 years, as well as playing music for hundreds of commercial jingles. He appeared on Oprah's show several times, including performances with Patti LaBelle and Andrea Bocelli.

Bob Sutter - piano



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