Shell Lake Arts Center Alumni

Over 40,000 students have come through the doors of the Shell Lake Arts Center, some for their very first time away from home and others for their fifth year of camp.  Alumni of the Shell Lake Arts Center often describe their experience as life-changing, and a stepping stone to their careers in music.  Among these legends are Byron Stripling, Geoff Keezer, Bill Evans,  Pat Mallinger, Lyle Mays, and many more.  They have performed with Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, the Jacksons… the list goes on!

Byron Stripling   Byron Stripling

“In ways big and small, Shell Lake proved to be a great place for me to gain the upper hand on my jazz education. The camp provided a positive experience and motivating faculty who encouraged me and helped me develop a better understanding of jazz music.”        

-Byron Stripling

Trumpet virtuoso, Byron Stripling, has ignited audiences internationally. Since his Carnegie Hall debut with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops, Stripling has become an orchestra favorite, soloing with Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Utah Symphony, and The American Jazz Philharmonic. He is a frequent soloist at major jazz festivals throughout the world and currently serves as artistic director and conductor of the highly acclaimed Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

An accomplished actor and singer, Stripling was chosen, following a worldwide search, to star in the lead role of the Broadway bound musical, Satchmo. Many will remember his featured cameo performance in the television movie, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and his critically acclaimed virtuoso trumpet and riotous comedic performance in the 42nd Street production of From Second Avenue to Broadway. Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of The Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials, TV theme songs including 20/20, CNN, and soundtracks of favorite movies.

   Geoffrey Keezer

“I am deeply grateful for the experience of the Shell Lake Jazz Camp. The guidance, instruction, loving attention and support from the faculty and staff at a crucial stage in my life provided a foundation on which I have been able to build a successful career in music.”

-Geoff Keezer

A native of Eau Claire, WI, Keezer was playing in jazz clubs as a teenager, holding down the piano chair for Art Blakey at age 18, and touring in the company of Joshua Redman, Benny Golson and Ray Brown in his 20s. More recently he has toured with David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Joe Locke and Christian McBride; worked with vocalist Denise Donatelli on projects garnering three GRAMMY® nominations, and released a series of albums drawing influences from Hawaiian, Okinawan and Afro-Peruvian folk traditions. Perhaps the most exciting turn in Geoffrey's career is his recent focus on solo piano and his first solo release in thirteen years, Heart of the Piano (2013, Motema Records). On a mission to redefine solo jazz piano as a personal and interactive showcase of melody, energy and groove, Keezer brings to Heart of the Piano his most direct and focused artistry to date.

bill-evans-photo   Bill Evans

"My first real experience learning about jazz, and meeting great jazz  teachers and players, came about at the summer jazz camps in Shell Lake, Wisconsin when I was 13 years old! I didn't know it at the time, but Shell Lake jazz camp set the tone for me becoming a jazz musician.  It was a relaxed but serious environment where I was shown the tools needed to pursue a career as a "player" in the field of jazz.  My mother could not have picked a better place or starting point as a young musician to be inspired to learn and play jazz music.  I was lucky and fortunate at the same time! I would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in taking their instrument to a higher level."

-Bill Evans

Saxophonist Bill Evans first joined Miles Davis group in 1980 at the age of 22, and went on to record six records and tour the world with Davis numerous times over a four-year period. He then toured and recorded three CDs with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and later played with Herbie Hancock, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Steps Ahead and Mick Jagger, among others, garnering a few Grammy Awards® along the way. The sax man has been touring almost exclusively with his own band since 1990, playing well over 100 concerts worldwide per year. He has recorded 19 solo CDs, including his latest, Dragonfly, and received two Grammy® nominations for his solo releases, one for Soul Insider(2002) and the other for Soulgrass(2006)

Throughout his more than 20-year career as a solo artist, saxophonist Bill Evans has explored a variety of musical settings that go well beyond the confines of traditional jazz, including rock, hip-hop, jam, fusion, reggae, Brazilian and slamming funk. Evans stepped into more adventurous territory with his 2006 Grammy®- nominated release Soulgrass, blending jazz, funk and bluegrass into a seamless and wholly unique hybrid of quintessentially American styles.

   Pat Mallinger

"Shell Lake Jazz Camp played a role in my growth as a young man.  The discipline I learned and the instruction I received were instrumental in my training.  Shell Lake provided the environment that sparked my love of jazz, ultimately becoming my profession, a jazz musician.  The excellent instructors, and the wonderful setting, provided an atmosphere of inspiration and fun that I will always remember."

- Pat Mallinger

Pat Mallinger was born and raised in St. Paul, Minesota, where he began playing the saxophone at the age of 11.  He received his Jazz Studies degree in 1986 from North Texas State University where he was awarded the One O'Clock Lab Band Scholarship.  He performed while residing in Los Angeles. Dallas, Boston, and Japan, before establishing Chicago as his home in 1990.  He is the co-leader of Sabertooth which has been the mainstay band at the Green Mill Lounge each Saturday night for 17 years.  He is also heard around town performing with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Bobby Lewis Quintet, and the Pat Mallinger Quartet to name a few.  Pat performs concerts and festivals nationally and internationally both as a band leader and a side man.

Are you a past camper of Shell Lake Arts Center with a successful art background to share?How did the Shell Lake Arts Center influence your life? We would love to hear from you! Fill out the form below, or email us at info@shelllakeartscenter.org

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