Spring 2018

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D.W. Jazz Orchestra co-founder Sam Wolsk in the recording studio

All that Jazz

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Junior music majors Louis Danowsky and Sam Wolsk prep for release of second album.

Louis Danowsky and Sam Wolsk first met in high school in the New Jersey All-State Jazz Ensemble, but their musical partnership took root at Northwestern. That partnership led to their debut album, Coalescence, and a performance at a high-profile New York club.

Danowsky, a saxophonist, and Wolsk, a trumpeter, formed D.W. Jazz Orchestra during their freshman year and spent 18 months crafting their first album, an eight-track, big-band effort recorded at New York’s Avatar Studios and released in May 2017.

“I think a third of the band is Northwestern jazz students,” says Danowsky, the orchestra’s conductor. Junior Dan Peters and alumni Cameron Kerl ’16 and Zakkary Garner ’16 MMus allowed the orchestra leaders to arrange their compositions for the album. Danowsky and Wolsk attribute the professional sound of Coalescence to feedback from Northwestern faculty, including Victor Goines, Joe Clark and Jarrard Harris.

The duo supported their work on the debut album with a pair of Undergraduate Research Grants, totaling $7,000, and a successful Kickstarter campaign. 

Now the junior jazz studies majors have a second album scheduled to release in 2018. It’s a recording of the D.W. Jazz Orchestra’s first live performance — at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex in New York City.

Danowsky says their success would have been impossible without the support of the University and its faculty and alumni. “Thank you to everyone who contributes to Northwestern,” he says. “For the alumni, thank you for, in some way, making it possible for us to get a grant to pull off this project, for giving us great faculty who take care of their students and for giving us a building that allows us to have a beautiful space to collaborate.”