Former JJC musician, now North Aurora resident Shawn Maxwell releases fourth jazz CD
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News August 4, 2011 3:08PM
Shawn Maxwell performs on the saxophone. Maxwell, formerly of Joliet, recently released his fourth CD, "Urban Vigilante." | Submitted photo
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:40AM
Multi-instrumental jazz musician Shawn Maxwell, formerly of Joliet, recently released his fourth CD, “Urban Vigilante,” which showcases his fascination for edgy contemporary funk/swing.
Yet Maxwell, who made the first nominating ballot of the 2007 Grammy Awards, would never have pursued a jazz career if former Joliet Junior College music professor Jerry Lewis had not lent Maxwell his saxophone and said, “Why don’t you join our jazz band? I think you’d like it.”
“I had been thinking more along the lines of possibly teaching music or being a band director,” Maxwell, 34, now of North Aurora, said. “I never thought I would write and play powerful music for a living.”
Maxwell’s musical style is so new, he said no pigeonhole currently exists for it. He mixes traditional jazz with rock, funk, fusion and be-bop, so that people who think they don’t like jazz do like Maxwell’s work.
Although Maxwell’s music features the improvisation that’s a hallmark of classic jazz, it also contains quite a bit of melody.
“It’s not just a 15-minute solo of me playing random notes,” Maxwell said.
Before attending JJC, Maxwell, who also plays the clarinet and flute, performed music under Ted Lega’s direction as part the Joliet Central High School band. In 1999, Maxwell received his bachelor’s degree in commercial music from Millikin University in Decatur.
After working as a Caribbean cruise line entertainer, Maxwell returned to the Chicago area and formed, in 2004, The Shawn Maxwell Quartet and recorded his first CD, “Originals.”
Today, in addition to performing, Maxwell teaches 40 students and works as a clinician with young, area jazz performing artists. Although Maxwell regularly plays in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, he is planning to push past those boundaries and bring his musical brand to other states, too.
“By this time next year, those four-state venues will, hopefully, have expanded to 14 and beyond,” Maxwell said.
For more information, visit www.shawnmaxwell.com.