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Jim Olsen: News

Guestbook has been removed - November 1, 2016

So, I just received an email from a Danish website, telling me that someone was using the guestbook page of this site to create misleading links. I immediately turned off that function of this website, and I hope that this will solve the problem.

My apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced by this problem.


NEW RELEASE! - October 2, 2016

Well, after far too long without any new material for this site (blame it on trying to both teach high school and have a life), there's big news.

Yes, I have finally managed to release a new recording. "The Great Plains" features me on flute, along with pianist John Harmon, in a program of mostly improvised duets. We recorded last summer, and I have finally found the time to get it all mixed, mastered, art-directed, and pressed.

You can get the CD at CDBaby - and through Hearnow at:
Please check out some music that John and I are both very proud of, and let us know what you think.


new release in the offing! - August 3, 2016

Finally! It's been a LONG TIME since the last update to this site, but the drought is about to end. I've got a new CD project in the works, and it is almost ready to release. We're working on layout and artwork right now, so expect to see a big announcement sometime in the next few weeks. One hint: this new recording will be my first one as a performer (flute), as opposed to composer. And it features a very special guest.

That was two hints? Oh.

stay tuned!

Radio Update - June 14, 2014

So, it's well past time to thank and honor the many radio station that have added/aired/promoted "We See Stars." It's incredibly gratifying to see the music reach so many parts of the country. Thanks also to Origin Records (and John Bishop), who got the music to these stations (and even more that I haven't heard about).

HPR2, Hawaii
JazzFM91. - Toronto
KAZI, Austin, TX
KIOS, Omaha, NE
KKFI, Kansas City, MO
KKRN, Bella Vista, CA
KLCC, Eugene, OR
KRFC, Fort Collins, CO
KSDS, San Diego, CA
KSVY, Vallejo, CA
KTEP, El Paso, TX
KUNM, Albuquerque, NM
KVLU, Beaumont, TX
KWIT, Sioux City, IA
KWMR, Pt. Reyes Station, CA
NIPR. FM, Northeast Indiana
SDPB, South Dakota
WBCX, Gainesville, GA
WDCB, Glen Ellyn, IL
WDNA, Miami, FL
WEFT, Champaign, IL
WHPK, Chicago, IL
WKPS, Penn State U, PA
WNMC, Traverse City, MI
WJCT, Jacksonville, FL
WSCA, Portsmouth, NH
WWSP, Stevens Point, WI (Jazz Album of the Day, 3/17/14)

busy week - May 7, 2014

Well, if I ever thought that life might get a little easier, this week is a clear indication that I was wrong.

I received a last-minute request to direct Swing Shift for their concert this Friday. That, plus two rehearsals, with them, scores with missing pages, and a whole bunch of other things, have taken what should have been a regular week of teaching and made it pretty hectic.

I suspect that I will be more than ready for an adult beverage or two by the time Saturday night rolls around.

Now, when was it that I was supposed to compose and practice?

just dropping in... - April 16, 2014

A quick update on life for a teaching musician. First, there's a lot of teaching. Second, you try to cram in time to write/practice/do business/etc. Obviously, that doesn't leave as much time for keeping up with this webpage as I'd prefer.

However, despite the crush of classes and grading, there is some new music in the pipeline. First, I've been adapting some light classical pieces for A3's production of "God," by Woody Allen. This has entailed me working in Logic for what seems like hours at a time.

Next, I'm collaborating with Scott Crowell, one of our other teachers at A3, on a piece for spoken word and music. That will be premiered on April 30, along with a bunch of work by students poets and composers.

Finally, I'm writing the music for one segment of A3's rewrite of "Abbey Road," which involves collaborating with one of our student dance majors.

Busy, busy, busy!

a little late, but... - March 30, 2014

Well, I'm late in posting this, but the two gigs in support of "We See Stars" were just fantastic! All of the musicians came loaded for bear, and played the music as if they had composed it. We had great crowds at both the Jazz Station in Eugene and the Blue Monk in Portland, managed to sell a few CDs, and in general tore up the joints.

In fact, things were so much fun that we've been asked to reprise the show, so look for us to play this summer at Roaring Rapids Pizza, which is quickly getting a reputation for hosting some very adventurous jazz shows (George Colligan, Swing Shift, Joe Manis, etc.)

Thanks again to: Paul Krueger, Steve Sharp, Glenn Bonney, Jessika Smith, Joe Manis, Adam Harris, Torrey Newhart, Dorian Crow, Mike Snyder and Don Elkington.

radio airplay - March 3, 2014

Well, it seems as if the new CD is filling that radio niche for "kind of odd, but somewhat interesting nonet music." In fact, "We See Stars" is generating airplay on stations in Vallejo, CA, Beaumont, TX, Stevens Point, WI, Chicago, IL, and Hawaii, as well as KLCC here in Eugene/Springfield. The list seems to grow weekly, which is a good sign.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped make this possible!

"We See Stars" now available as a download - February 23, 2014

That's right, my new CD, "We See Stars," is now available as a download, either from Origin Records or iTunes. Use the Links page or just search for Origin/OA2 Records. Or, try this:

great gig last night - February 22, 2014

Played a great gig last night with coNtEXT, the co-op trio that I'm in with bassist Whitney Moulton and drummer Don Elkington. Had good sound, a nice-sized crowd, and just a whole lot of fun. I really look forward to opportunities to perform; the flute is not a typical "jazz ensemble" instrument, so there aren't too many chances to play with groups unless I put them together myself.

We've begun to develop a very nice language as a group, so I'm pleased that we have a few gigs scheduled where we'll get the chance to show off what we're about. Check the calendar section for our next performance.

The Big Day! - February 4, 2014

Be sure to mark Tuesday, February 18th, in your calendar. That's when "We See Stars," my new CD, will be released by Origin/OA2 Records. I'm really proud of the result; I think that the music is some of my very best, and it was captured beautifully by Bob Stark, our engineer/producer.

I was incredibly lucky (and honored) to be able to feature the wonderful (and amazing) Bobby Shew and Dick Oatts on the CD. Just as special, I was able to persuade John Harmon, one of my teachers and a major influence on my composing, to come out and play. The results were beyond anything that I could have hoped for. Everyone - saxophonists Lynn Baker and Hashem Asadullahi, trumpeter Dana Heitman, trombonist Glenn Bonney, drummer Jason Palmer, bassist Andrea Niemic, and percussionist Mike Snyder - came ready to make some cool sounds, and they all did.

You can use the links page to go to OA2's site and check out some samples of the CD, and then order it from them.

I plan to make the sheet music available soon, so please check back to see when I manage to get that done.


big news in the offing! - November 23, 2013

It's too soon for a formal announcement, but it appears that the New Year will bring a new CD from yours truly. I don't have a release date yet, but the new recording, titled "We See Stars," should be out on Origin Records some time in the first 3 months of next year.

I'm not going to say anything more at the moment, except that the CD will feature Bobby Shew and Dick Oatts in a nonet setting, playing all new material.

Stay tuned for more information!

Darmon Meader concert - April 20, 2012

The fun doesn't seem to end. Swing Shift had barely finished with Hubert Laws when the music for our next show arrived in the mail. We're presenting singer Darmon Meader (New York Voices) in concert on Sunday, the 22nd, and it should be a treat. We just rehearsed with him last night, and I can confirm that he is the real thing: a great singer who can improvise like a horn player (maybe because he is also an excellent saxophonist), a great arranger (most of the charts that we're playing are his) and a really nice guy. This promises to be a fun show.

After Sunday the band gets to take a break for a little bit. We're going into the studio in May and then finishing out our concert season with Bobby Shew and Dick Oatts on June 15th.

In the mean time, I have to write a new piece for Bobby and Dick, as well as arrange some things for my school group to play at graduation.

Amazing concert - April 9, 2012

Wow, Swing Shift's concert was simply amazing. The band was in rare form and Hubert Laws was, as might be expected, extraordinary. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with one of the masters of jazz.

It was a true privilege to write and conduct for such a wonderful (and very kind) artist.

lots of writing in my future - April 3, 2011

Well, it looks as if there will be some sleepless nights in my near future. I've got to write 2 new pieces for Swing Shift's June concert, as well as arrange a blues by one of my former students. One new tune, "On the Downhill Side," is almost done. It's kind of a Mingus-y blues sort of thing, with some different textures. The next piece will attempt to combine the band with looping software written by our Ryan Chaney, our lead trombonist.

As if that wasn't enough for one semester, A3 has the jazz pianist Deanna Witkowski and 3 members of Chamber Music Amici coming to perform on our Spring concert. It looks like I'll need to come up with something that will feature all of them with the A3 Group.

Oh, and two of my students have a recital in May, and they are both composing things for me to play, which means I'll need to do some practicing, too.

To work!

a few bits of news - February 9, 2011

Just had a great concert with Swing Shift and special guests Holly Hofmann (flute) and Mike Wofford (piano). Both of our guests were fantastic players and great people.

We did a couple of my arrangements on the show, including one of Faure's "Pavane" that featured Holly on alto flute. I haven't made it available for sale yet, but plan to do so this summer. It's not particularly difficult and could be adapted for a wide range of guest soloists.

We also played my chart on "Blues in the Closet," which is available through this site. The big change for the concert was that we featured Holly, me and all of our saxes doubling flute during the tune. Treble clef silliness!

Next up are some new pieces for my school group, as well as an original for Swing Shift's June 24th concert.

Just Back from Newport! - October 4, 2010

I had the opportunity to hear lots of great music this weekend; Swing Shift performed at Jazz at Newport, and a number of us went over a day early to catch some of the other concerts. Jeremy Pelt, John Clayton, Holly Hofmann, Bill Cunliffe; all of them were fantastic. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was drummer Alvester Garnett, who was a model of interactive support in every setting.

Swing Shift closed the festival Sunday afternoon, and we were lucky enough to have a few of the festival headliners sit in with us. Houston Person was, as usual, the epitome of swing. He's so smooth and graceful that you almost miss how good he is. Then again, everyone who sat in (Pelt, Hofmann, Cunliffe, Bruce Forman) was great. Thanks!

Lots of arranging going on. - November 21, 2009

So, what with one thing and another, I haven't mentioned any of my recent composing/arranging projects. Most of them won't be published, simply because there is so little market for highly specific instrumentation, but they've still been fun.

The first piece of note was an adaptation of the music from the Looney Tunes cartoon "What's Opera, Doc." I had to adapt Milt Franklyn's adaptation of Richard Wagner's music for the small ensemble that I coach at my high school. It's not an easy task, reducing full orchestra scores for a group comprised of flute, cello, 2 keyboards, electric bass and drums, but things turned out much better than I expected. We'll premiere the results in a couple of weeks.

Another project involved a collaboration between Swing Shift and Chamber Music Amici. We were both asked to perform at a concert, and decided that it would be fun to play a couple of pieces together. This brought about arrangements of "Eleanor Rigby" and Gabriel Faure's "Pavane" for the big band plus 2 violins and oboe. Unfortunately, the concert was cancelled, so we have yet to perform these charts. Still, I'm quite happy with how they turned out, and suspect that we'll find a way to get them in front of the public.

As if that weren't enough, I'm now in the midst of a Christmas medley for my high school ensemble. We always try to have fun with this, so the tunes are often distorted beyond all hope of repair. This should eat up any free time that I have during our Thanksgiving break!

I'm Back! - September 20, 2009

Hey, everyone, I am back at work! The Master's program is finally over, and I'm trying to make up for lost writing time. I recently finished a very different version of "Basin Street Blues," which Swing Shift will premier on October 16th.

"What's Opera, Doc," an arrangement of the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, is in my sketchbook and will be performed by the A3 Group in December.

Next up, a couple of pieces for Swing Shift and a trio of 2 violins and oboe, for a November show.

New addition to the catalog! - December 28, 2007

Check the "Buy" page for a new listing. I've added my arrangement of Oscar Pettiford's "Blues in the Closet," a fun, not very demanding chart that provides a good breather from more challenging tunes. There's no recording yet, but I hope to have one available soon.

New Music! - July 29, 2007

Finally, some new tunes! Check out the "Music" and "Buy" pages for several new additions to the catalog. I've added 5 new charts, including another original and 4 arrangements.

"Hummin'," "My Funny Valentine," "The Acme..." and "Every Day" were all recorded by the Lamont Jazz Orchestra, directed by Lynn Baker. They did a great job with the charts. "Manteca" was recorded by Swing Shift, the band I direct.

Most of these would have to be considered a grade 4 in terms of difficulty, but a couple of them, "Manteca" and "Acme" in particular, are playable by good high school bands. The ranges are reasonable (D's and E flats in the lead tpt. part), the only double is soprano sax in the lead alto part and there aren't any extra musical demands for anyone.

These charts have all been performed numerous times, and they always go over well. Bands enjoy the interesting and challenging parts, and audiences really love the final results. Listen to the sound clips and then pick up some new music for your next concert!

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