[JPL] Information Highway traffics in mix of jazz, rock

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Sat Mar 17 09:04:16 EDT 2007


Date posted online: Friday, March 16, 2007
Information Highway traffics in mix of jazz, rock
Band's original, cover songs hark back to era when jazz reigned
Times Correspondent

While most young people tend to embrace the popular music of their own
generation, the four 20-somethings who comprise Information Superhighway, of
Chicago, reflect back decades to a time when jazz giants walked tall in
American culture.

"We do mostly original songs, but we do a couple of covers sometimes.
There's a (John) Coltrane number that we do," said Park Forest
keyboardist/guitarist Rob Clearfield, who also cites Thelonious Monk as a
primary musical influence.

Clearfield began playing piano at age 5. "My mom made me stick it out and
practice," he said. "When I was about 13 or 14, I started getting really
serious about playing."
While piano always has been his primary instrument, Clearfield soon started
exploring the guitar. "I play both with the band, but mostly it's
keyboards," he said.

"My dad is really into jazz, so I've been listening to jazz music my whole
life. When I was a freshman in high school, I really started getting into
jazz a lot, because Oak Park-River Forest High School has a really good jazz
program. I really got into improvising and the freedom that jazz gives you
as a musician."

Inspired by his high school music instructors and jazz band experiences,
Clearfield and a teenage classmate, Patrick Mulcahy, studied music together
at Chicago's Roosevelt University.

At Roosevelt, Clearfield met up with fellow jazzers, vocalist Leslie
Beukelman of Sandwich, Ill., and Hanover, Mich., drum transplant, John

"Leslie and I started doing a duo thing for a while, then John and Patrick
started playing with us," recalled Clearfield of how Information
Superhighway was born.

"There are three main components to our music," Clearfield said.

"There is definitely a strong jazz thing going on there, but there is also a
singer/songwriter element to us as well. Sort of a Norah Jones-kind of
thing. The third component is somewhat of a Radiohead, indie rock kind of

Working with a couple of sound engineering students at the College of
DuPage, who needed to do a recording project with a musical artist for a
class, allowed Information Superhighway to record its first album, "First
Morning," at no cost, available online at CDbaby.com and Amazon.com.

The coolest side project for Clearfield is playing with the nationally
respected world-jazz artist Fareed Haque in his self-named group. "Fareed is
amazing and I love playing with him," he said.

For more on Clearfield and his other musical adventures, fans can visit
www.myspace.com/informationsuperhighwaychicago and hear MP3 files of "Fur
Peace" and "Giant Steps," two tasty numbers recorded with the Fareed Haque


Information Superhighway

When: Tonight at 8, all ages

Where: Blue Room Cafe, 2641Highway Ave., Highland

Cost: $5

FYI: (219) 838-5538

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