Faddis succeeds William Russo, who founded the band in 1965 and directed it until his death in 2003. Under Russo's leadership, the CJE was a leading jazz repertory ensemble, performing reconstructions of jazz landmarks like Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain and Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert as well as Russo's original compositions.
A prot_g_ of trumpet great Dizzy Gillespie, Faddis inherited Gillespie's sense of humor on the bandstand as well as his mantle as jazz's highest-flying soloist. After performing in a series of big bands as a teenager, Faddis became a successful session musician, and then began to lead his own groups in the 1980s. From 1991-2002, he served as music director for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band.
"The CJE is really a world-class ensemble, and I was honored even to be considered, much less asked to do it," Faddis told the paper. "My goal would be to try to help raise the profile of the band."
According to the Tribune, saxophonist Joe Lovano was also a leading candidate for the artistic director position. Both Lovano and Faddis were guest conductors for the CJE last season.