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Junior Mance

The Evanston Township High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of David Fodor, is one of only six student ensembles chosen to perform at the 31st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival.


The Evanston Township High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of David Fodor, is one of only six student ensembles chosen to perform at the 31st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival.

The award-winning ensemble will perform at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, at the Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage, located near Buckingham Fountain.

The performance will also feature special guest artists, including the legendary pianist Junior Mance and Chicago’s own Eric Schneider on clarinet and saxophone.

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Born Julian Clifford Mance, Jr., in Chicago in 1928, Mance is a celebrated pianist, composer, recording artist, author, and teacher. He began playing the piano at the age of five, and started playing professionally during his early teens. An ETHS alumnus, Mance played jazz and blues piano on weekends during high school in Chicago jazz clubs, work that continued while he attended Roosevelt College.

Throughout his career, Mance has played with many jazz greats. In 1947, he left Roosevelt to join Gene Ammons’ band, and two years later he played with Lester Young. During military service, he served in the 36th Army Band with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. After his discharge, Mance joined the house rhythm section at Chicago’s Bee Hive Jazz Club accompanying such legends as Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Stitt.

From 1954-58, Mance toured and recorded with Dinah Washington and with Adderley’s first working band. He joined Dizzy Gillespie’s band in 1958, a career highlight for the great learning experience he got in the business of music. In 1961, he formed his own trio following the release of his first recording as a leader (“Junior” on Verve Records).

Author of How to Play Blues Piano, and recording artist of 30-plus albums as a leader and a sideman, Mance is also a faculty member of the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program at the New School University in New York City, where he lives. He teaches classes in Blues and Blues Ensembles, gives private piano lessons, and helps students develop their careers in playing jazz. In 1997, he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and in 2000, Mance made his solo piano debut at Lincoln Center.

Tenor saxophonist Eric Schneider, long an institution in the Chicago jazz scene, is an unsung jazz talent who, without garnering headlines, has been playing top-notch jazz for 30 years.

Schneider originally did not plan a musical career, earning a degree in advertising from the University of Illinois, where ETHS Jazz Director David Fodor and he first met. But he had played his saxophone throughout college and found it easy to find work after graduation.

He gained some recognition as a member of the Earl Hines Quartet during 1979-82 (also playing alto and clarinet) and toured with the Count Basie Orchestra during 1982-83.

After that, Schneider decided to stop touring, settle in Chicago, and has since worked regularly in a variety of Chicago settings for years.

Along the way he has performed with Benny Goodman, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney and Billy Eckstine; recorded with Jim Beebe?s Chicago Jazz Band; used Earl Hines as a sideman on his Eric and Earl album in 1981; and appeared on records with Count Basie, Sir Charles Thompson and Jeremy Monteiro as well as virtually all of the top local jazz musicians and singers. Eric Schneider also teaches at the Merit School of Music.

ETHS jazz students have performed around the world for over a decade, including the All-Japan Cultural Arts Festival in Niigata City, performances in Germany and Austria, and performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival and Umbria Jazz Festival. Jazz groups have also performed in Toronto, Canada, Washington D.C., Orlando, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Recognized nationally with two Downbeat Music Jazz Awards and three Grammy Signature School Awards for the school’s rich musical program, ETHS jazz groups have performed for numerous international, national, regional, and state conferences in the past decade, including the International Association of the Teachers of English Conference, the IAJE Regional and National Conferences, the 59th Annual Midwest Clinic, and the Illinois Music Educators and MENC Midwest Regional Conference.

ETHS jazz students have been exposed to dozens of performing artists, from bebop trumpet legend Red Rodney to famed bandleader Maynard Ferguson. Just this past spring, lead clarinetist Ron Hockett with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band played with the 21-member ETHS Jazz Ensemble. In addition, ETHS jazz students were part of a three-year Composer-in-Residence program with Antonio Garcia, sponsored by The Commission Project.

Other high-school jazz ensembles that will perform with the ETHS Jazz Ensemble at the 31st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival include groups from Wheeling High School, St. Charles High School, Morgan Park Academy, and Whitney Young and Lincoln Park High Schools in Chicago.

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