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While attending DePaul University, Chicago-born drummer, composer, and bandleader Dylan Ryan began playing in a jazz group that ultimately became Herculaneum, an important contributor to the city's creative music scene. Herculaneum's eponymously titled debut album arrived in 2003, and in addition to Ryan on both drums and xylophone, featured trombonist Nick Broste; trumpeter Patrick Newberry; bassist Greg Danek; and, on alto saxophone, David McDonnell (aka Icy Demons' the Diminisher), Ryan's duo partner in Michael Columbia, an experimental outfit that had issued its own eponymous debut the preceding year. Released in 2006, sophomore Herculaneum album Orange Blossom featured the same lineup as the debut (with McDonnell now on clarinet in addition to alto saxophone), while 2008's Herculaneum III expanded the lineup to a septet with the addition of guitarist John Beard and flutist Nate Lepine. Olives & Orchids was released in 2010 and UCHU in 2012; Ryan had been Herculaneum's principal composer on previous albums but on these latter two releases shared composing credits with McDonnell, Lepine, and Newberry.