Adult Big Band Workshop Faculty

Robert Baca 

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.

 Keri Johnsrud  

Keri Johnsrud (Jazz Vocals) is a Chicago-based jazz vocalist/composer/teacher and Iowa native. She headlines some of the nation’s top venues, including the Jazz Showcase, the Green Mill, and Cornelia Street Café, performing jazz standards and her own original music.  Keri also maintains an active teaching schedule, giving lessons in both voice and piano. 

Keri is excited and honored to bring her current project to the public.  Her new record, Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers is an exploration and celebration of Mr. Fred Rogers’ music. Mr. Rogers wrote the music for his beloved children’s show and was an accomplished composer.  Beyond the Neighborhood is a fresh take on this music that both old and new fans of the show will enjoy. The record is in collaboration with Keri’s longtime musical partner, GRAMMY-nominated pianist Kevin Bales. 

Keri is happy to join The Shell Lake Arts Center as an instructor this summer. The Center features top-notch programming and is on par with internationally known schools, but with a much more intimate, personal feel. The staff is incredibly warm and dedicated to making the center a place where all students can learn in a supportive environment. Also, the Northwoods location is incredibly beautiful. 

Keri’s weekend-long program will touch on a number of topics essential to singing with a big band and smaller groups. Keri will primarily focus on technique related issues, including improvising with lyrics, key transposition, and vocal phrasing. She will also guide students in selecting repertoire, communicating with bandmates and the audience, and in understanding the business side of music.

Greg Keel  

Greg Keel is on the faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, teaching saxophone, directing community partnership ensembles, and instructing in the jazz combo and summer camp programs.  He is also on the faculty at Carleton College in Northfield, Hamline University in St. Paul, and the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.  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, Bobby Vinton, Bob Hope, The Temptations and the Minnesota Orchestra.

His 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 MMEA All-State Concert Band.

Greg is an artist/clinician for Selmer Saxophones and served as vice-president of the Minnesota chapter of the International Association for Jazz Educators.  Currently, he is the jazz program director and a member of the saxophone faculty at the annual Shell Lake Arts Center Summer Jazz Camps.  Since 1999, Greg co-hosts the Twin Cities Saxophone Day sponsored by MacPhail and McNally Smith College, one of the largest events of its kind in the country.

He studied at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire and Madison and holds the  Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University in St. Paul.

Steve Zenz  

Steve Zenz has been involved in the music business as professional musician and teacher for more than fifty years. During that time he has played with innumerable musical organizations and personalities representing almost every style of music. His professional credits include performances with such diverse personalities as Bob Hope, Myron Floren, Tiny Tim, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton and Pete Barbutti. As a teacher he is experienced at virtually all levels of education; primary grades through graduate school and has had numerous appointments to Who’s who among American teachers.  Steve has a reputation for being a consummate professional in all that he does. His friends, students, and colleagues know him as "Zomar" a character of humor and zaniness. Steve's reputation as a performer-clinician is that of a seasoned professional who loves people. He is currently a self-employed freelance musician throughout the Midwest, a drum set and rhythm section coach at UW-Eau Claire, a long time faculty member at the Shell Lake Arts Center in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, the co-founder of the Cordoba Jazz Camp in Jesus Maria, Cordoba, Argentina and world traveler living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife Siri. He is the father of four daughters and co-sponsor of an Argentine music student.