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History of Metropolitan Jazz Octet

MJO is the reawakening of a group that originally started in 1950 by Chicago saxophonist and arranger Tom Hilliard.


From the late 1950's through the mid 80's Hilliard wrote many of the octets arrangements and original compositions.


He also collaborated with Chicago’s first call arrangers and studio musicians, together they created the library of moar than 150 charts.


In 1959, they recorded an album on the Argo label titled “The Legend of Bix,”; Hilliard's arrangements in a tribute to famed 1920's cornetist and composer Bix Beiderbecke. 

"The Legend of Bix" ARGO 1959.

The Legend of Bix album cover
The Legend of Bix LP label

Tom Hilliard - Jazz Saxophonist, Composer & Educator

Tom Hilliard

As professor at De Paul University School of Music, Tom Hilliard taught three current members of MJO to whom he bequeathed his complete library, passing the torch to the next generation.


This new octet started exploring Tom Hilliard’s library in 2014, and with the support of the Non-profit Jazz Artist Resource and has since composed and recorded three ablums. The Road To Your Place, It's Too Hot For Words and The Bowie Project


The ensemble is lead by Jim Gailloreto, John Kornegay, Peter Brusen and John McCortney.  MJO is made up of the most talented musicians active in jazz and music education in Chicago. Together they create a unique and fresh contribution to the on going spirit of Tom's legacy and jazz vision.

Legend of Bix

The Legend of Bix 1959
A Fantasy on Bix Beiderbecke 

The Legend of Bix album cover
The Legend of Bix Argo Records
The Legnd Of Bix back cover & liner notes

The Argo Recording Session "The Legend of Bix"

This image captures the 1959 recording session at Chicago's Ter-Mar Recording Studios of the album The Legend of Bix (Audio Odyssey by Argo)

Vintage MJO recording The Legend of Bix

Tom Hilliard    Dave Edwards    Eddy Avis    Ben Baileys

Pictorial History Of Jazz  by Grauer and Keepnews

"Bix Beiderbecke was obviously the sort of man about whom legends insist upon growing. He lived for only twenty-eight years, and his career actually spanned less than a decade (most of that time spent in bands that could not do justice to his sensitive, lyric jazz talents). Yet he was a tremendous influence on all the musicians who heard him: the Chicagoans, not much younger than he, made him their idol; and such listeners as Louis Armstrong, Red Nichols, and the men who worked alongside him in the Paul Whitman and Jean Goldkette orchestras seem to have been uniformly awed and amazed. He remains a vivid, affectionate and larger than life-size memory to almost all who knew him—and to a great many who didn’t. He remains , in short , the number one jazz legend."

On The Record

Side 1
Nick La Rocca
00:00 / 04:08
Little Louis And The King
00:00 / 03:11
Paul Mares
00:00 / 02:29
The Ballad Of Emmett Hardy
00:00 / 05:43
Side 2
In A Mist
00:00 / 03:54
00:00 / 03:16
Davenport Blues
00:00 / 01:39
In The Dark
00:00 / 03:39
00:00 / 06:26

Recorded August 11 and 12, 1959 at Ter-Mar Recording Studios, Chicago. Personell: Tom Hilliard, tenor sax; Ed Haley, Trumpet: Ed Avis, valve trombone: Dave Edwards, alto sax; Ben Bailey, baritone sax: Angelo Principali, piano: Gerry Lofstrum, bass; Jim Gianas, drums.

Cover: Emmett McBain

Engineer: Malcolm Chisholm

Supervision: Jack Tracy


Agro Session
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