Libertyville saxophonist is living his dream
Madsen fingers the keys of his sax. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
OCCUPATION: Jazz musician and music teacher
EDUCATION: 1999 graduate of Libertyville High School; bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in music and jazz studies; artist’s diploma in jazz studies from The Julliard School in New York
Updated: August 13, 2012 6:07AM
By the time he was 14 years old, Chris Madsen knew he wanted to be a jazz musician.
“I was lucky to realize that early on,” said the 30-year-old Libertyville resident.
Madsen is living his dream as a saxophonist performing for many jazz bands in the Chicago area. Madsen also has two new jazz CDs, “Chris Madsen Trio Plays Bix Beiderbecke,” which was released in 2011, and his latest CD Chris Madsen “Pop Art” which came out in March.
“Both of the CDs have been getting positive reviews,” he said. “I’ve been able to showcase them at jazz venues in Chicago, which is a nice plus.”
His latest CD “Pop Art” combines his passion for jazz music with elements of pop and rock music. “It uses jazz but puts it in a pop song format,” he said. “The solos and track lengths are shorter.”
“I’m really interested in maintaining the essential elements of jazz without diluting it or dumbing it down, but there are ways to make the music more accessible to a general listening audience,” he said. “One of the ways is by shortening the length of songs, which is what I did there (with Pop Art).”
Madsen’s interest in music started when he was just 10-years-old after he became involved in band at Copeland Manor School in Libertyville.
Madsen continued to play in band in middle school and into high school. Although he enjoyed many different types of music, he gravitated toward jazz music and his favorite instrument became the saxophone. “It just seemed obvious to play the saxophone with jazz and it kind of stuck,” he said.
While in Libertyville High School, he played for the school band and the jazz band under the direction of now retired band director Don Shupe.
“He was very motivating, not only for me, but for everybody that went through that program,” he said.
After graduating from LHS, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in music from DePaul University and then attended and graduated from the prestigious Julliard School in New York City.
Madsen performs at different jazz venues throughout the Chicago area. While the popularity of jazz has declined since its heyday of the 1920s and ‘30s, he said there are still many people who enjoy jazz music.
“I think there’s a dedicated audience for jazz music,” he said. “You just have to be creative in marketing yourself and you have to introduce jazz to new listeners as well.”
In addition to performing in different jazz bands, Madsen also teaches jazz music at Northwestern University in Evanston and has also taught classes at the Midwest Young Artists in Highwood. He also offers private music lessons at his home in Libertyville, where he lives with his wife, Melanie.
To learn more about Madsen or his music, visit www.chrismadsen.net. His music can be purchased on CDBaby.com, iTunes, or Amazon.com.