Chad Rager Modern Big Band
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Chad Rager Modern Big Band

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Funk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Chad Rager Groove/21st Century Groove"

The first selection, "Sing, Sing, Sing", kicks off the CD with a solid, traditional big band sound. Chad Rager’s drumming entices you and makes you curious to hear what else he’s going to offer. The arranger, Chris Young, mixes a variety of moods, introducing the whole band along the way: soloists, sections, and of course, Chad Rager’s driving drums. Everybody gets a chance to shine: a sweet trombone solo, nice horn section work,specially the differing textures that are used to support each of the soloists,each texture matched to provide each soloist with a background that best suits that instruments characteristics. This allows each soloist an opportunity to showcase that instrument, as well as allowing each soloist a solid platform upon which to provide an improvisational gem. Mike Kamuf’s trumpet solo is a fine example of this marriage of soloist floating on a custom-designed cushion of harmonies and rhythms.

"Pyramid of Pachyderms" is a hard swinging number that sometimes moves away
from the big band sound and drops down to almost a combo feel.Fans of big band and bari sax will love this cut! Even when the full band resurfaces, the overall feel remains intimate, but solid—not skimping on fullness in the sound.

This is a lighter version of "Straight No Chaser". It’s almost un-Monkish.This time the horn sections are sparsely used, once more, giving a small combo sound/feel. Brooke Hopkins’s arrangement accomplishes this by carefully alternating between melodic sections and harmonic sections of the piece, using the full band on the harmonic sections, and using only the essential elements of the band during the melodic sections. A nice touch.

On the CD, several cuts begin with a drum solo, of varying lengths.This cut, "St. Bernard", begins with a full-blown solo that demonstrates Chad Rager’s amazing skills and ability to weave an interesting percussive display. He drives, he floats, and like a preacher, he delivers his "sermon" and then sets the stage for the choir to "take you home".

The arrangement has an ultra-modern, hip, sophisticated moodiness that is established by the drums in the introduction. Somehow, Chad Rager manages to maintain an intense tempo without heavy-handed drumming.

"Zomba Samba" evokes the appropriate tropical mood. Complex and varied horn section lines are juxtaposed against the piano, almost like a pas de deux. And once again, good section work renders both a big band feel and a combo feel. The composition has an interesting harmonic structure that works well within the context of a traditional samba song form.

Compared to the preceding cuts, "Chicklets" is an unusual arrangement. At first, it’s difficult to tell when the intro ends and the song begins. This piece isn’t your usual song form; it’s more like a series of vignettes. However, once the band settles into what turns out to be a rather serious groove, the piece moves sinuously and smoothly like a fish gliding through water. Then, the song ends as it began. Only now, what at first seemed ethereal and elusive has now been clearly identified and solidly nailed down.

The big band feel is recaptured on "Smile". It’s a traditional arrangement for a standard song, but this arrangement has a bit more zip and zest than one might normally associate with this song.In fact, this version of "Smile" is downright giddy.
If you like dancing to swing, this cut will get you out of your chair, grabbing your baby, and trying not to bump into the furniture too much because you’re going to try to use the whole room on this one. Makes you wanna get expansive, emotive and extravagant. If you’re by yourself, you’ll probably do a rather energetic soft-shoe.

"The Heat’s On": I recognized this song without actually recognizing it,
if you know what I mean. What I mean is, Rager and friends have reintroduced me to an old friend,only all spruced-up. Familiar, but new. Loved for its familiarity but appreciated in its new incarnation. It ‘s always nice to be shown something—something that you thought you knew—with a fresh and perspective that makes you fall in love all over again.

"Whipping Post" is a nice cut to end on.
It showcases everyone, both individually and the sections,
but the ethereal beauty blooms when Rager does his solo.
A truly impressive performance. Some excellent snare work!
Rager’s solo is a well-formed structure that gives him the freedom to explore his creative percussive heat, raw flames and sullen molten lava and this song even has a surprise ending. I didn’t think it was gonna go there! Glad it did, though. A fitting climax!

Chad Rager has the ability to be present without being pushy. He’s there when you need to hear him, but he knows how to set-up and support his mates without getting in their way. He never detracts or distracts. He’s almost invisible at times, but you know that if he wasn’t there, there’d be one huge hole. This man fills the hole, just right.
Like a good meal, satisfying, especially if you don’t overeat.
Rager’s like that, just enough drums to satisfy, without filling you up.
I know that this was a live recording, but I was happy that I was spared having to listen the songs being introduced to the audience! If you enjoy most of the styles that jazz can take, Rager offers several "flavors" to choose from, and you won’t be disappointed.
Chad Rager takes some fairly standard/mainstream material, gives it to a small big band/large combo, mixes in large doses of creativity, and serves up an entertaining live performance. -

"CHAD RAGER Groove: 21st Century Groove"

It takes only seven words to describe Chad Rager: “a dynamic drummer of the first rank.” And this description perfectly defines his latest release, 21st Century Groove recorded live at Mills James Productions in Hilliard.

Chad, a 1972 graduate of Columbus North High, worked our local scene for years as a player, teacher,and clinician. He currently resides in Illinois and fronts the Groove, a powerhouse octet that produces an energized big band sound with the intimacy and individuality of a small group.

His drumming reflects his early influences: the power of Krupa, the technique of Rich, the dynamics of Bellson, and the musicality of Roach.To these, he adds his own innovative concepts and strengths, thus creating a percussive punch that’s unique – and his alone.

This is exciting, foot-tappin’, finger-snappin’ foreground jazz at its most-intense – definitely not the CD for use as background at your next tea party, intimate dinner,or romantic interlude.

Every track cooks-on-high, from the opening “Sing, Sing, Sing” to the closing “Whipping Post.” In between you’ll enjoy pulse-pounding performances from the songbooks of Monk and Nestico, along with a few Rager originals.

- Review by WJZA/WJZK and Short North Gazette

"Strokeland Records is excited to welcome the Chad Rager Groove to Strokeland Jazz"

By drawing from the rich big band heritage of the legends of jazz and updating the sound and instrumentation for today, Chad Rager creates a "21st Century Groove".

This instrumental release was recorded live and features a big band approach that celebrates the traditional musical catalog of the big band, and at the same time reaches beyond it to funk and rock, giving all the tracks the "Chad Rager Groove" treatment.

Chad Rager leads the group and anchors the band from the drum throne. The Chad Rager Groove uses a five piece horn section (two trumpets, tenor sax, bari sax, trombone), plus keyboards (piano, organ), bass and of course drums.

Tower of Power fans will find a unique cover of "Squib Cakes", and southern rock fans will be surprised to hear the Allman Brothers' classic "Whipping Post".

Former Strokeland Records manager Andy Ebon assisted in production of "21st Century Groove" and brought the Chad Rager Groove to Strokeland Records. - Strokeland Records


NEW CD has been recorded - working towards a 2011 release

Live at The Paramount - Chad Rager Modern Big Band
Strokeland Records - Looking towards a Spring 2011 release date

21st Century Groove - Chad Rager Groove
Strokeland Records

Pick 2! - Rager
Modern Groove
For the 1st time ever. . . Now Available!

In The Club...Live - Chad Rager
Self Released

Pick 2! - Rager
Sisapa Record Co. *Never Released

Observations - Rager
Sisapa Record Co.


21st Century Groove is getting regular play on Horn Driven Radio (internet) - all songs are receiving airplay across the country.


If routing works out we can also give a Music Clinic for area High School & Middle School musicians along with an evening concert.



Chad Rager (ray-gr) is the Drummer/Band Leader of the Chad Rager Modern Big Band and when you hear him play, he immediately evokes memories of the greatest. . . Gene Krupa, Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich. By drawing from the big band heritage of the legends of jazz and updating the sound and instrumentation for today, Chad and his band the Chad Rager Modern Big Band create a "21st Century Groove".

Naming the band the "Chad Rager Modern Big Band" reflects the fact that this band is not confined to traditional big band selections, but that it is confident enough to venture out into rock and funk selections as well. The guiding principal of the band is the "groove", smooth tasteful sounds that appeals to listeners ears."

Rager's arrangements will introduce you to old friends, only all spruced-up. Familiar, but new. Loved for its familiarity but appreciated in its new incarnation.

"A truly impressive performance"
Donald Eichelberger Jazz USA

If you enjoy most of the styles that jazz can take, Chad Rager offers several "flavors" to choose from, and you won't be disappointed.

"Every song we select has affected me in a musical and personal way. I feel blessed to be able to perform them!" Chad Rager

From Chad Rager:

"My deep appreciation of the great Big Bands and Modern Jazz Funk Horn Bands led me to form my Modern Big Band. I believe you will share the excitement of this fabulous music with me at every performance!"


No Tour Dates are posted on this site.... please contact our management for costs & avails. 317-537-2411