Chris Madsen – Pop Art

Pop Art Cover








Chris Madsen presents “Pop Art”

Jazz in a pop-song format

Now available from CDBaby, iTunes, and!

Chris Madsen, tenor sax and compositions
Josh Moshier, piano
Scott Hesse, guitar
Charlie Kirchen, bass
Eric Montzka, drums
Mike Raynor, drums
Liner notes by Jon Irabagon


“This record…raises Chris’s profile in the next generation of complete jazz musicians”

Jon Irabagon

“Pop Art, filled with contemporary material handled by a strong, full-rhythm quintet starring pianist Josh Moshier and guitarist Scott Hesse. This time, Madsen promised “Jazz in a pop-song format” (by which he apparently means track length – none of the songs top 6 minutes, and several are under 3:30). But there’s nothing diluted about these fully-sketched performances…”

Neil Tesser,

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Chris Madsen Trio – Plays Bix Beiderbecke

Chris Madsen Trio plays Bix Beiderbecke








JeruJazz records presents “Chris Madsen Trio Plays Bix Beiderbecke”

Featuring new interpretations of arrangements played by Bix Beiderbecke in the late 1920’s, this recording is the group’s debut.


Chris Madsen, tenor saxophone
Joe Policastro, bass
Dan Effland, guitar

liner notes by Michael Steinman



“I’m tremendously impressed by the performance…remarkable attention to stylistic nuance …it’s mature, rich music that is very enjoyable to listen to.  Fantastic guitar sound (BRAVO!) and stylistic approach to comping and soloing…[the] swing sense and sound on the tenor is spot on…It’s a really good sounding album!”

Bob Lark, DMA
Professor of Jazz Studies, DePaul University
Yamaha trumpet artist and JazzEd Media recording artist


“One of jazz’s first seminal soloists, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke’s musical output is often overshadowed by his romantic image as a tragic self-destructive genius (Beiderbecke was the inspiration for the Kirk Douglas character in Man With a Horn). As a result, his prodigious cornet work and compositions are rarely thoroughly examined. The Chris Madsen Trio ably rectifies this situation with their new album, which features several 1920s Beiderbecke performance vehicles (notably “I’m Coming Home Virginia”), as well as his endurable original compositions.

Although this recording is an impressive homage to the compositions and repertoire of Bix, the trio uncannily evokes the Commodore small group records of Lester Young, with each musician respectively playing the role of Young, Freddie Green, and Walter Page (unlike Green, who was perpetually the masterful accompanist, Effland solos quite a bit). As with Young’s legendary small group sides, the three artists on this recording ably glide through a number of early jazz tunes with an effortless sense of swing. For those of us Chicago folks who are familiar with his work, Chris Madsen is a kind of tenor saxophone wunderkind. In recent times, the instrument has become a stereotypical paradigm of jazz excess, replete with long solos and technical self-indulgence. Whether or not this stereotype is accurate, it most certainly does not describe Madsen. His uncanny lyricism and oblique melodic inventions have made him one of the most popular saxophonists in Chicago, and he certainly does not disappoint on this recording. Like Pres, Madsen displays a full-bodied tone that is simultaneously warm and supple, enveloping melodies like a warm blanket. His solos on this recording are remarkably devoid of patterns and clichés. Instead, he evokes an older generation of players with his ability to roll out witty melodic inventions with rhythmic creativity and effortless swing.

Effland is a “jack-of-all-trades” for the needs of this recording. He darts back and forth between artful quarter-note comping, melodic counterpoint against Madsen, and wonderful improvised solos. Like Madsen, Effland’s solos characterize an era in jazz where melodic invention was paramount, before pattern books even existed. At no place is this more evident than on “Ostrich Walk,” where his solo displays a superb sense of melodic architecture and form. Joe Policastro brandishes a centered bass tone, impeccable swing and imaginative solo work. His slap bass accompaniment on “Riverboat Shuffle” is a real treat. To boot, he is constantly plugged in to the interplay with the other two musicians. In fact, Effland and Policastro create such a strong rhythm section foundation, especially on “Riverboat Shuffle” and “Davenport Blues,” that one does not miss the presence of a drummer at any point on the album.

Although the solos by all three musicians are a constant highlight, it is the arrangements, which are rich in stylistic nuance, that really impress. The trio zips through romping swing feel, stop-time choruses, rhythm section breaks, unison passages and counterpoint. Madsen really dazzles with light, melodic invention on the rhythm section breaks and stop-time sections. Policastro effortless moves from lithe walking accompaniment to singing arco work. Effland’s pitch-perfect Green-esque comping contrasts perfectly against his melody counter-lines, readily apparent on “Dardanella.” All of these gestures are performed effortlessly, so it is hard to tell where the arrangement ends and the spontaneous group interaction begins. All in all, a terrific project. ”

Daniel Healy
Chicago Jazz Magazine
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Chris Madsen – Hidden

Chris Madsen - Hidden








1. Innocence is Bliss
2. Free to Drive
3. County E
4. The Spirit of  ’96
5. Molasses
6. Hidden

All compositions by Chris Madsen

Chris Madsen – tenor saxophone
Brandon Lee – trumpet (5)
Adam Birnbaum – piano
Yasushi Nakamura – bass (1,2,3,6)
Ivan Taylor – bass (4,5)
Jeremy Noller -drums (1,2,3,6)
Marion Felder – drums (4,5)

“Hidden is one of those mainstream discs that reminds us that there really is life and originality in accessible jazz. Chris Madsen, an extremely talented composer, makes the flow of each track continually surprising. He is also a deep thinking soloist who refuses to go for the easy lick…”


“This new recording by Chris Madsen is an aural delight. Beautifully conceived compositions,beautifully executed playing by all involved.
Having known Chris for about 8 years or so, I’ve seen him grow as a composer, arranger and saxophonist.  There’s a maturity in the sound of his horn, the colors and sonorities of his tunes that bring back the sounds of the giants in this music. That’s not to say that he’s not looking ahead, because in the words of Dizzy Gillespie, ” You have to have one foot in the past, and one in the future”. Chris accomplishes this. He’s well on his way to establishing himself as a superb player and composer with this recording. Highly recommended!”

Mark Colby, Chicago saxophone legend

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