Mark O'Connor Quintet
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Mark O'Connor Quintet


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"All Music Guide"

Tenor saxophonist Mark O'Connor (not to be confused with the veteran violinist, guitarist and mandolin player with the same name) should surprise many jazz fans with his striking debut as a leader. Utilizing a rotating cast of talented musicians in either quintet or quartet settings; the Chicago-based musician's confident and full-bodied sound belies his youth on this post-bop oriented date. Six of the ten selections are his own, especially the challenging, well-named opener ("The Beast") and the free-spirited mixed meter "Mirage." Neither is he a slouch as an interpreter of ballads, which include two works by the matchless team of Rodgers & Hart: a loping treatment of "With a Song in My Heart" and a touching take of "It's Easy to Remember." Finally, his driving rendition of Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae" wraps the CD with a flourish. ~Ken Dryden -

"Jazz Improv Magazine"

Tenor man Mark O'Connor's debut CD "Mirage" appears on the Blujazz label. I'm guessing barely in his thirties, O'Connor moved to Chicago in 1996 from his native state of Texas. He graduated from the University of North Texas (1994) and attended Eastern Illinois University for graduate school. Currently, he regularly performs in the Chicago area which can be seen on his website.
O'Connor's tone is warm and fat, comparable to the Hawk school as opposed to the Trane school (not that he doesn't have any Trane in him as you will surely hear). For the sax-heads, he uses a rubber mouthpiece and MK VI horn. His vibrato is interestingly unique; it is much wider and deliberate than most. Listen to the end of track three to hear this. His intonation with fellow horn man Tito Carrillo is tight. Their unison melody lines are outstanding. I am often weary when two horns play a unison melody line, but these guys perform them with ease, creating a nice timbre. At times the lines will split momentary creating little bursts of harmony. His influences most likely include Joe Henderson (as displayed on track three, opening line), Trane/Brecker (as shown on the first track with the false fingerings), hints of Mintzer's tone along with man other great beboppers as shown on the entire album!
The compositions on the album are something else. Not afraid of odd meters, the album uses several unusual time signatures. Check out "Mirage" to hear some of these. The tune begins with sax, trumpet, and drums in a staccato fashion. The melody and solo undergo several interesting shifts. Often, one of the difficulties of this as a writer is to not make the odd meters seem forced. Amazing all the shifts seem very natural as if the tune could not be any other way. Another difficult tune is "Three Up One Down." It is in three, but the tempo is swift and the phrasing during the blowing is very ambiguous (in a good way). Throughout the entire album, little nuances of compositional devices are prevalent making this an interesting album, and a great start. I hope to hear more soon. ~Joshua Musselwhite - Jazz Improv Magazine

"The Penguin Guide to Jazz on cd Seventh Edition"

This is a bright and promising debut from the saxophonist, who now bases himself in Chicago. His opening number 'The Beast' has both excitement and authority and the title track explores some interesting rhythmic possibilities. O'Connor has assembled a strong roster of players and uses them cleverly to maximize his possibilities on this first-shot record, where it's forgivable to take on too much and attempt to show off every wrinkle of your playing style. The ballads and standard tunes are less beguiling than the originals, though he gets off a fine version of 'It's Easy to Remember' and then rounds of a very pleasant set with a brisk read of Jackie McLean's 'Little Melonae'. ~Richard Cook and Brian Morton - Penguin Guide to Jazz


Mark O'Connor Mirage Blujazz Records
Mark O'Connor Suspended Reality (will be released soon)



Saxophonist Mark O’Connor, an Austin, Texas native, has been part of the Chicago, Milwaukee music scenes since 1996 as a performer, composer and educator. His debut CD on Blujazz productions, “Mirage,” spent eight weeks on the national jazz radio charts and garnered such praise as “With his hearty sound and bristling ideas, O’Connor can bowl over even a jaded follower of post-bop jazz.” - Neil Tesser, Author, The Playboy Guide to Jazz, and Host of Miles Ahead (1240 AM Chicago). The group has also been selected as a finalist in the Independent Music World Series in 2006.

O’Connor has performed with such notables as Rufus Reid, Arturo Sandoval, Henry Butler, Steve Turre and Joe Williams. He has studied with well known jazz educators Dan Haerle and Fred Hamilton at the University of North Texas and at Eastern Illinois University with New Orleans piano luminary Henry Butler and Chicago pianist and producer of “Mirage,” Mark Maegdlin.

O'Connor has recently relocated to Urbana, IL and is currently a doctoral student at the world renowned University of Illinois and is studying with well known jazz educators Chip McNeill and Chip Stephens.