"Chris Weller is a tenor/bass saxophonist and composer living in Oak Park, IL. He attended Berklee College of Music on scholarship from 2007-2010 where he received his bachelors degree in saxophone performance. During that time, Weller performed in jazz groups across the nation. Since college, he has performed internationally as a bandleader, established a reputable private teaching studio, and hosted clinics in the U.S. and abroad on elementary, high school, and college levels" (chriswellermusic.com). You might have heard Chris Weller in a solo gig or with Devin Drobka, The Hanging Hearts, or Dickie, but it's his residency at Friendly Tap that will keep you coming back for more!
How did you get started in music?
I grew up dabbling on the clarinet and drum set but never really found my stride until my parents rented me a saxophone and brought home a couple Charlie Parker CDs for me to listen to. I've been hooked ever since.
Who were your influences?
This is tall list... Aside from all typical saxophone greats (John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Sidney Bechet, Pharoah Sanders, and many more...), my teachers and friends have had a large impact on me as an artist. More specifically, the drum master Bob Moses, Jim Odgren, Greg Ward, Scott Hesse, Marquis Hill, Devin Drobka, and Cole DeGenova. Also, I grew up going to jam sessions at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge and learned a lot from those experiences.
How do you describe your style?
I'm melodically driven and enjoy making my saxophone roar.
What's your favorite part of performing?
Being present in the moment and sharing that experience with the audience and people I'm playing with (if any).
What's something surprising about you?
I love to cook!
What brought you to the Friendly Music Community?
I approached the Friendly Tap about a musical residency to workshop my solo saxophone material, participate more in the local music scene, and bring world class artists to this area.
What can the audience expect from your monthly shows?
Audiences can expect a world class cross-medium art event that combines ORIGINAL music with live painting (Lewis Achenbach). These events are intimate and accessible to all--all ages, free, and begin at 7pm. I have many more exciting things planned for my 'Open Forum Project' residency, but will divulge those details later when the time is right.
** Here's a slice of sax heaven, filmed by our own Ian Leith.
Chris Weller-Solo Sax @ Friendly (11/16).
A Fan's Two Cents: The concept is creativity at its best; the music is world-class quality; the experience is somethiing I'm anxious to witness. Described on Chris' website, "OPEN FORUM PROJECT (O.F.P.) is an anything goes, ready to rage, 'let's get weird’ Chicago-based free-improvising ensemble under my direction. O.F.P. is a vessel for artistic collaboration and has no set personnel." This month's contributor is MARTIN DOSH (Watch Dosh perform "Simple Exercises" at Bonnaroo with Andrew Bird), and I'm looking forward to updating this post with more thoughts after the 2/26 event. Until then, if you've been to an O.F.P. in the past, feel free to write your reactions below.