The Metropolitan Jazz Octet (MJO) is the reawakening of a group that was originally started in the 1950’s by Chicago saxophonist and arranger Tom Hilliard.
From the late 1950's through mid 80's Hilliard wrote many of the octets compositions. He worked with Chicago’s top arrangers and studio musicians to expand the library to 150-plus charts. In 1959 MJO recorded an album on the Argo label titled “The Legend of Bix,” a tribute to 1920's cornetist and composer Bix Beiderbecke.
"The Legend of Bix "ARGO 1959.
Tom Hilliard - Saxophonist, Composer and Founder
As a professor at De Paul University School of Music, 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 has since composed and recorded music from the current members.
Now 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 jazz.
The Legend of Bix
A Fantasy on Bix Beiderbecke as Played by the Metropolitan Jazz Octet
In 1959, The Metropolitan Jazz Octet recorded an album (Audio Odyssey By Argo) titled The Legend of Bix, a tribute to 1920's cornetist and composer Bix Beiderbecke.
Recording session August 11 & 12 1959, at Ter-Mar Recording Studios
Dave Edwards - a.sax
Tom Hilliard - t.sax
Ed Avis - valve trb.
Ben Baileys - b.sax
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 banned 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.
Grauer and Keepnews
Pictorial History Of Jazz