Robert Baca is Professor of Trumpet and Director of Jazz Studies at the all undergraduate University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. His performance background includes countless performances in both classical and commercial areas including the Milwaukee Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and the Phillip Brunelle “Plymouth Music Series Orchestra" as well as a past member of the popular radio ensemble for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” He has toured with Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Blood Sweat and Tears and numerous others as well as performing over countless Broadway shows and hundreds of recording sessions in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. He has been employed at the Orpheum and State Theatre in the theatre district of Minneapolis for all concerts and Broadway Shows for the last 29 years. As a soloist, Robert has performed in China, London, Costa Rica and Europe as well as the United States.
Mr. Baca also directs the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Studies program which was recently cited in the New York Times as "one of the most well-regarded jazz studies programs in the country." Under Mr. Baca's direction, the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I has recorded 21 CD's, received the Down Beat award for Jazz Ensemble eight times and been nominated for a Grammy twice. Recently, Robert conducted the National High School Honors Jazz Ensemble for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) at their national convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Other educational highlights include serving as a faculty member of Conn-Selmer Institute, conducting numerous all-state ensembles and presenting at educational conventions. Recently he received the first, “Career Excellence in Teaching Award” presented by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and was runner-up for the "Teacher Of The Year", UW-System Award. Mr. Baca is a past executive board member of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) as the United States Representative as well as an advisory board member for the Edwin Franko Goldman Band.
Mr. Baca loves to help students of any age reach their whole potential through an apprentice approach. Each week students practice with Mr. Baca from 7:30-9:00 each morning and afternoon when available, receive weekly lessons, trumpet studio class, trumpet choir and brass quintet coaching as well as attending concerts in the Twin Cities. He has been happily married to his wife Jodie for over 30 years and has two children, Alec and Nicole and a dog named Chewy.
Greg Keel has been a long-time faculty member of the Arts Center's Jazz programs, serving as the Program Director for many years until 2020 when he joined our Board of Directors here at Shell Lake Arts Center. He currently serves on the Capital Campaign Committee. He has been on the faculty at MacPhail Center for Music since 1995, teaching saxophone, directing community partnership ensembles, and instructing in the jazz combo and summer camp programs. Greg is also on the faculty at Carleton College in Northfield and Hamline University in St. Paul. He has performed with a wide range of entertainment luminaries including Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Torme, The O’Jays, Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis, The Fifth Dimension, Frankie Valli, Lou Rawls, Doc Severinsen, Bobby Vinton, Bob Hope, The Temptations and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Greg's high school and college students have received recognition from Down Beat Magazine’s annual Student Jazz Awards, and are frequently selected as members of the Minnesota All-State Jazz Ensembles, the Dakota Combo, Minnesota Youth Jazz Bands, and the Minnesota All-State Concert Band.
Greg is a member of the JAZZAX Saxophone Quartet, Synergy, and the 10-piece soul/pop group The Good the Bad and the Funky. He is an artist/clinician for Conn-Selmer, and served as vice-president of the Minnesota chapter of the International Association for Jazz Educators. Greg studied at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire and Madison, with additional graduate studies at Concordia University of St. Paul.
Pianist Chris White hails from Toronto, Canada. After obtaining a B.A. in English from the University of Toronto, Chris decided to focus his studies entirely on music. In 1997 he attended Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music and pursued his Masters degree in Jazz Studies, graduating with a Phi Kappa Lambda award (National Music Honors Society) and was elected to the Who’s Who of American College Students in 1999. Gaining valuable experience in Indianapolis, he performed with The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, David Baker, Jamey Aebersold and Oliver Nelson, Jr. He has studied piano with Luke Gillespie, Lynne Arriale, Joanne Brackeen, Barry Harris and Andy LaVerne. In August 2000 Chris was invited to perform in the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia hosted by James Moody, Rufus Reid and David Baker.
Currently, he is an instructor of jazz piano and theory at Lake Forest College, North Park University and North Central College. Chris is a busy freelance musician in the Chicago area, and has performed at The Green Mill, The Jazz Showcase, Andy’s, The House of Blues, Navy Pier, The Peninsula Hotel, the Coq D’or at the Drake Hotel and many more. In 2010 he completed his Doctoral of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His two CD’s “Young at Heart” and “Tributaries” are available through his website.