The Hot @ Nights – Come On! Feel the Illinoise • As I have written before on this site, I like Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois. A lot. Every song is masterfully crafted, touchingly written and, perhaps most importantly, tastefully arranged. Such perfectly written songs are easy prey for a cover, and as of now the world’s collection of Illinois covers holds quantity way above quality—just ask the hundreds of indistinguishable capo’d covers of “Chicago” on YouTube. Thankfully, it seems like the Hot @ Nights have made a very important contribution to changing that ratio. The jazz trio, led by Foreign Exchange affiliate Chris Boerner, plays an exciting version of “Come On! Feel The Illinoise,” which will be featured on their debut album, Nice Talk, available later this summer.
Keeping the song grounded to its source material, Matt Douglas, who plays woodwinds for the trio, chimes in the original 5/4 woodwind melody before he, locked in synch with Boerner and drummer Chris Baglio completely flip the feel of the track. Baglio’s attention grabbing, yet reserved drumming may be the most impressive element of this song, but Douglas’ soaring improvisation is hefty competition. The trio plays things groove-heavy but the atmospheres that they conjure up can be light as a feather. These musicians clearly know their way around a staff, and have the taste and keen sense for melody that any great jazz musician needs to truly excel. -Jack B.