Geneseo native releases jazz album

Lisa Depies

Saxophonist Jim Buennig’s debut album is part personal project, part master’s thesis and all jazz.

Buennig, a 2011 Geneseo graduate, recently released “It’s Like This,” a self-produced studio album.

“The improvisational aspect of jazz is a form of communication,” said Buennig. “There’s a lot of opportunity to express different emotions through the music.”

Inspired by jazz greats like Kenny Garrett, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, Buennig composed all of the pieces on the album.

“It’s pretty rooted in traditional jazz, but there’s also an element of looking foward,” he said.

After graduating from Geneseo High School, Buennig attended Western Illinois University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music and jazz studies.

“When you’re in the band program in Geneseo, you’re expected to have your act together and there were consequences if you didn’t. We all set high standards for ourselves, and I just assumed that was how it was at all high schools,” said Buennig.

“When I got to college, I realized it wasn’t the same everywhere, and I was so glad I came from the Geneseo music program.”

Buennig is now a graduate student at the University of Iowa where he’s earning a master’s degree in jazz studies.

Buennig, who plays alto saxophone on the album, was joined by members of his quintet including Dan Padley on guitar, Curtis Atchley on piano, Blake Shaw on bass and Fabio Augustinis on drums.

The group recorded “It’s Like This” over a two-day stretch in December.

“We recorded at Flat Black Studios, in Lone Tree, Iowa,” said Buennig. “The owner converted a corncrib into a studio.”

The converted barn also featured living space, so Buennig and his fellow band members stayed on site during the recording process.

“We were in the middle of nowhere, so we weren’t able to get distracted by anything,” he said.

Because the musicians are all friends, Buennig said recording the album also gave them a chance to spend time together.

“I’m going to be leaving Iowa City after graduation, and I wanted to record an album with the group I’ve been playing with,” he

said, adding he plans

to move to Austin, Texas,

following graduation.

Because “It’s Like This” is a self-produced product, Buennig was involved in all aspects of the album process.

“During the process, you get so zoomed in on the little details, especially in the mixing process. You’re trying to get everything just right,” he said.

By the time the completed album was released, Buennig said it was nice to step back and enjoy the album as a whole.

“The music I wrote is what my voice is right now,” he said. “I hope listeners will be able to take away some kind of personal meaning from the album.”

Since its recent release, “It’s Like This” has earned positive reviews and received radio airplay.

A release party on Friday, March 24 at The Grape Life, in Davenport, Iowa, will allow Buennig to share his album in the Quad Cities.

“I’m doing a release in Iowa City as well, but I wanted to make sure I had an album release in the Quad Cities because I still know a lot of people in the area,” he said. “I want people to hear the album.”

The Grape Life album release starts at 7:30 p.m. on March 24. For more information, visit www.jimbuennig.com.