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WIU Alumnus Releases Recording of Personal Compositions and Arrangements

April 2, 2021

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MACOMB, IL – A Western Illinois University alumnus recently released a recording of 11 of his compositions and arrangements, with at least one having a connection to his alma mater.

Jeff Ford, a 1981 graduate with a bachelor's degree in music, from Oswego, IL, recently recorded "Saxophoning: The Music of Jeff Ford," which includes performances with 11 fellow musicians.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic paused Ford's work as a performing saxophonist, which led to his focus changing to the recording. He said the recording, which has been available to the public for less than one month, has been played on Chicago's only jazz radio station, and has received some media attention.

"The music is all jazz based, but pretty eclectic in content," said Ford. "Traditional 'rhythm changes' to electronic drum grooves, and the occasional use of the electric saxophone (EWI) will all be heard. The actual content had already been recorded, but the production, artwork, marketing etc. details needed to be attended to. I had the time to do it, so I did."

One of the tracks on the recording is titled "Sherman Shuffle," and the accompanying story is spelled out in the CDs liner notes. Ford said the song is an homage to his time at WIU and waiting in line to register for classes inside the University's administrative building.

"Back in the days before computers scheduling classes, changing classes, acquiring necessary forms and paperwork etc. required a long walk across campus to the administration building," he said. "There was no online, only in-line. This walk became affectionately known as the 'Sherman Shuffle.'"

After his graduation from WIU, Ford received his master's degree in music from DePaul University in Chicago. He then directed the jazz ensembles and taught applied woodwinds at Waubonsee Community College for 29 years, retiring in 2014. He opened his own business in 1998, which specializes in the repair and restoration of musical instruments.

While at Waubonsee Community College, Ford and the music department there established the Skyway Jazz Festival. The school's big band performed at jazz festivals throughout the country and was invited to perform at the Black Sea Jazz Festival in 1990.

Jeff has presented masterclasses and clinics throughout the area for middle school, high school and college-level students and ensembles. Some of his favorite masterclass topics are "Beginning to Improvise for the Young Musician, The Art of Improvising (spontaneous composition)," and The Modern Saxophonist (being a chameleon)."

Ford remembers his time at WIU fondly, especially for the friendship he made with saxophone Professor Emeritus Bob Sibbing. He made annual trips back to Macomb to visit Sibbing until his recent death.

Ford also stays connected to the University by participating in the jazz festivals within the WIU School of Music, and he maintains contacts with many classmates

"The skills I acquired, and the people I met at WIU, continue to guide a great deal of my musical journey," he said.

Selected tracks from the recording are available on Spotify and iTunes. The entire recording is available as a CD or digital download on his website,

For more information about the WIU School of Music, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Relations