Joe Clark

Composer, Arranger, Trumpeter

May/June 2019: Journal of Singing - Sisters in Song
By Gregory Berg

“The balance of this disk is devoted to very intriguing and attractive duet arrangements by Joe Clark… These are arrangements created from the ground up, replete with fresh and wonderful ideas. Purists might raise an eyebrow at the conversion of Fauré's "Clair de lune" into a duet, but what Clark does with this exquisite song is true to its original form while saying something new. His arrangement of "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair" is a bit more radical... Clark's arrangement skews in a much more modern direction, with a rich and highly expressive harmonic palette and a rhythmic freedom that accentuates the intense passion of this piece. It is a work of haunting beauty, as are the other song offerings included here. The disk concludes with five spirituals in arrangements by Clark that fit his singers like a glove.”

July 2019: EScape into LIFE: Music for Music: Joe Clark & Arcana
By Dan Ursini

“The deft channeling of both freedom and restraint in creativity can put a fine edge on any new piece of work. A musical artist like Joe Clark is familiar with all this.”

February 2019: BLACK GROOVES
By Kennedi Johnson

“The duet arrangements of the classical pieces, folk song, and spirituals were completed by Chicago-based composer and arranger Joe Clark.

February 2019: OPERA NEWS
By Joanne Sydney Lessner

“‘Black is the Color (of my True Love’s Hair)’ is a standout among the orchestrated songs and spirituals, with its combination of weariness and determination… Clark’s whimsically peppy orchestrations add merriment to the final ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.’

SeptemBer 2018: Atlanta Audio Club
By Phil Muse

"Composer Joe Clark is crucially important here in the role of the arranger, traditionally the unsung hero in a recital of this sort, of a varied selection … Winners all, in arrangements that allow both Alyson and Nicole to register their distinctive styles and vocal color to best advantage.”

Spring 2018: All that Jazz
For Northwestern Magazine

"Danowsky and Wolsk attribute the professional sound of Coalescence to feedback from Northwestern faculty, including Victor Goines, Joe Clark and Jarrard Harris."

December 7, 2017: Jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton to perform to perform at CLC
by Kim Jimenez, for The Chronicle

"Hamilton and the Monday Night Jazz Ensemble are set to perform the following program...'Samba de Martelo' composed by Hamilton and arranged by Joe Clark..."

March 28, 2017: Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at Transformer Station
by Daniel Hathaway, for Cleveland Classical

"Joe Clark’s not merely bad or broken (2016) made use of those aforementioned slides, sighs, and hums before becoming melodic and almost jazzy."

OctOBER 10, 2016: Ran, Clark and Visconti works stand out at Sunday’s Ear Taxi marathon

"The premiere of Joe Clark’s not merely bad or broken was a tour de force. The piece itself makes inventive use of the vocal quartet: from the otherworldly sliding in the Creole text with which it opens, to its chirping middle, to the rapid overlapping ascents into the high range in its concluding section. All of these textures were realized with stunning virtuosity by the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble."

OCTOBER 5, 2016: Joe Clark, "not merely bad or broken"
FOR the Quince Blog

"This Sunday, October 9, Quince will premiere Joe Clark's new piece "not merely bad or broken" at the Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago."

January 7, 2015: Chicago big band jazz leader creates soundtrack for ‘C.O.W.L.’ comic book series
By Carol Banks Weber, for AXS

"McCreary explained the choice to go with Joe Clark as the perfect fit. 'My goal for Sparks & Shadows was to release unique soundtracks I believe in. Joe Clark’s original score for the comic book C.O.W.L. [Chicago Organized Workers League] was the perfect choice for our first release of music other than my own, because he perfectly captured the moody, sexy energy of the retro/noir stories,' McCreary elaborated in the press release. 'If the elegant painted pages of the comic were to resonate strongly enough, Clark’s music might just burst out of them.'"

November 25, 2014: From Film to Funny Books: Kyle Higgins on Donning the C.O.W.L. 
By Matt O'Keefe, for Comics Beat

"...I highly recommend it. It’s the brainchild of Joe Clark, an incredibly talented jazz composer in Chicago, who scored The League. Joe wrote this album as if someone in the world of C.O.W.L. were composing tracks about the superheroes of the city. So, it’s very of-the-world, both in its subject matter as well as its ‘60s hard-bop style."

September 17, 2014: Chicago Sinfonietta Opens Season With Mucca Pazza And Craft Beer
by Melissa Wiley, For Chicagoist

"After an intermission and beer break, Mucca Pazza performs with the Sinfonietta two original works, Mark Messing’s "Holiday on Ice" and Dave Smith’s "Rabbits and Trees," with new orchestrations by Joe Clark. "

AprIL 17, 2014: Haydn’s “Seven Last Words” finds luminous expression with Seraphic Fire and Spektral Quartet
By Wynne Delacoma, For UCHICAGO PRESENTS

"...Seraphic Fire and the Spektral Quartet performed a new arrangement blending the choral and string quartet versions, which required some editing of Haydn’s originals by Chicago-based arranger Joe Clark. Conducted by Quigley, the performance offered a finely balanced blend of heartfelt singing and expressive string playing. Surprisingly, the mix of forces emerged clear and well balanced with Rockefeller Chapel’s resonant acoustic not muddying the sound."

Fermilab Cultural Events presents Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Chicago Brass Quintet

"Sunday brings the gorgeous, resonant sounds of the Chicago Brass Quintet, presented as part of the Fermilab Gallery Chamber Series... Sunday's program includes works by Vivaldi, Copland, Villa-Lobos, and a world premiere of Joe Clark's "Chicago," written for the group in celebration of their 50th anniversary."

May 4th, 2013: Pointing Fingers… And Naming Names
by Jack Bowers, for the Big Band Report (

“In an area of the country that is suddenly awash in blue-chip big bands, Joe Clark has interposed an emphatic new voice that should be heard.”

April 5th, 2013: CD Reviews – April 2013
By Tim Willcox, for the Jazz Society of Oregon

“Another pleasant large-ensemble surprise this month is the new recording by Chicago arranger and composer Clark…“Lush” not only serves as a vehicle to introduce us to Clark’s arranging prowess, but also as an introduction to some of of Chicago’s finest instrumentalists who are probably not well known outside of that city.”

April 4th, 2013:  Cole Porter tribute offers triumphs and missed opportunities
By Howard Reich, for the Chicago Tribune (Reprinted in the L.A. Times)

“…(Kurt Elling) also finessed Joe Clark’s exquisitely detailed new arrangement of George Gershwin’s ‘I’ve Got a Crush on You,’ played by the Spektral Quartet (considering the luster of the instrumentals, one could forgive the brief departure from the evening’s Porter theme).”

March 21, 2013: Classical Corner
By John Von Rhein, For The Chicago Tribune

"Haydn's "The Seven Last Words of Christ" has long been a Holy Week tradition in Hyde Park, but this year will bring a new version by the Chicago-based arranger Joe Clark that seeks to bring the work closer to Haydn's original."

For the SpektraL Quartet Blog

"One of the reasons I love arranging is that each project is different and requires different ways of assessing musical problems and thinking both creatively and practically. "

March 15th, 2013: CD/LP/Track Review Joe Clark Big Band featuring Jeff Hamilton: Lush
By Nicholas F. Mondello, for

“According to a Carl Sandburg poem, Chicago is “the city of big shoulders.” There’s a unique strength about Chicago that’s different than New York or Los Angeles. Might it be suggested, therefore, that players emanating from the Windy City might also carry a bit more muscle, swagger and workmanlike focus? Perhaps.”

March 14th, 2013: Lush – Joe Clark Big Band, featuring Jeff Hamilton
By Pierre Giroux

“A new band in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra tradition.”

March 1st, 2013: Review
By Joe Lang, for Jersey Jazz

“Graham Carter’s Jazzed Media label has been one of the leading sources in recent years for outstanding big band recordings.  Lush…is the latest winner from the label.”

February 15th, 2013: FAME Review: Joe Clark Big Band – Lush
By Mark S. Tucker, for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

“Oh hell yeah! This is big band music with a highly cinematic feel, muscle, blood, and neon lights blaring at midnight.”

February 7th, 2013: LUSH: The Joe Clark Big Band Featuring Jeff Hamilton
By Steven Cerra, for Jazz Profiles

“...Joe’s writing allows melodic lines to play out; it doesn’t sound rushed or cluttered. With Jeff stoking the fire in the band’s engine room, Joe’s arrangements keep things simple and allow the band to pulsate under Jeff’s rhythmic guidance. His charts follow a distinctive, linear logic with the result that they produce a rush of excitement which can only come from big band Jazz when it is performed by musicians who listen to one another and jell as a unit.”

February 5th, 2013: Volume 37/Number 96
By Chris Spector, for Midwest Record Review

“… this is what the big band muso has been hungry for.  A winner throughout.”

February 3rd, 2013: Music Review: Joe Clark Big Band featuring Jeff Hamilton - Lush
By Jack Goodstein, for

“Good big band music doesn’t get old. Lush is big band music as good as it gets.”

May 27, 2011: Stan Kenton Orchestra - DePaul University Jazz Ensemble
by Jack Bowers, for

"Others who seduce the ear are baritone Rocky Yera, alto Michael Fenoglio, pianist Harunobu Tsuchida, guitarist Keisuke Yamada, trumpeters Joe Clark and Tim Bales. "