Jazz Faculty

Chris Bates is on a lifelong journey of musical discovery. Born into a musical family Chris and his two brothers, Dave and JT, drew inspiration from their band director/trumpet playing father Don Bates. Chris attended UW Eau Claire and studied the bass with James Clute (MN Orchestra) and renowned jazz bassist Anthony Cox. Chris received a McKnight Composers Fellowship in 1999 and a McKnight Performers Fellowship in 2015 with Atlantis Quartet. As a first call bassist in the Midwest, Chris has played with many wonderful musicians including Mose Allison, John Medeski, Tony Hymas, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Steven Bernstein, Bill Carrothers and Ari Hoenig. Chris has played on over 30 albums and brings an unbridled joy and enthusiasm to every musical situation. As a leader Chris has three albums out; 2016’s digital only Inventions and Dimensions trio, 2014’s Good Vibes trio and 2012’s critically acclaimed Chris Bates’ Red 5 ‘New Hope’ which was the only jazz album in the Star Tribune’s Best of 2012 album list. www.doublebates.com has Chris’ gig schedule, blog postings and links to stream or download his music.

David Cooper is currently leading the jazz quartets QUAD and Drift.  Drift released their first CD in 2020.

His performing affiliations also include the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Isthmus Brass, The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.  Ensemble affiliations have included the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Milwaukee, Fox Valley, Canton and La Crosse Symphony Orchestras, The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, The Dallas Brass, Walt Disney World, and the Aspen Jazz Ensemble.

 As an educator, Dr. Cooper is an associate professor of trumpet and jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville.  He has performed in Beijing, Foshan, Macau, New York, Munich, Vienna, Stockholm, International Trumpet Guild Conference, New York Brass Conference, and is a very active soloist/clinician with regional schools, jazz festivals and community ensembles.  He is the host and author of the educational blog www.AllThingsTrumpet.com.

Ethan Freier (b. 1964) is a band director, writer, arranger, and freelance trombonist. Since 1998, Freier has been a concert and jazz band director in the Northfield Minnesota school system.

Freier earned his Master of Music degree in jazz studies from Indiana University where he earned a prestigious “Performer’s Certificate.” While at Indiana University, Freier studied arranging with Dominic Spera and David Baker, and trombone with Dee Stewart. Freier received his Bachelor of Music degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Many of Freier's compositions for young jazz ensembles are published by Kjos Publishing and his arranging talents are called upon by many Latin and pop bands in the Twin Cities area.  As a trombonist, he is in demand as a freelancer in the Twin Cities and has performed behind numerous successful musicians such as Kenny Rogers, Harry Connick Jr., Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, Michael Bolton, Ray Charles, Marie Osmond, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Natalie Cole.

You can currently hear Ethan perform in the Twin Cities with the JazzMN Big Band and the award-winning Variety Band, Synergy.

Luke Gillespie is Professor at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. An active performer and teacher of jazz and classical piano, he has toured Argentina, China, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, and the United States and won numerous awards, including best performance from the Indianapolis Jazz Competition (1994); the Indianapolis Star (1993); and the Copland Piano Concerto Competition at Indiana University (1990).  Gillespie has recorded with David Baker, Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra (including CDs, Basically Baker Volume 1 and 2), James Campbell, Steve Houghton, Jazz Fables, Sylvia McNair, Dave Stryker, Tom Walsh, the Aebersold Jazz Play-Along, Vol. 76 ("How to Learn Tunes" by David Baker), and CDs: Footprints (RIAX Records, 2003), Live at the Station (Watercourse Records, 2008), Third Base Line (Watercourse Records, 2011), and Moving Mists (PATOIS Records, 2019), and has performed with Jamey Aebersold, Eric Alexander, Ron Blake, Ralph Bowen, John Clayton, John Fedchock, Benny Golson, Wycliffe Gordon, Bunky Green, Jimmy Heath, Nicole Henry, Javon Jackson, Ingrid Jensen, Kelley Johnson, Pat LaBarbera, David Liebman, James Moody, Ed Neumeister, Chris Potter, John Raymond, Rufus Reid, Arturo Sandoval, Walter Smith III, Jim Snidero, Dave Stryker, Bennie Wallace, Bill Watrous, Rodney Whitaker, Pablo Ziegler, and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. He has published articles on the aesthetics of jazz and classical music, is the author of Stylistic II/V7/I Voicings for Keyboardists (2000), published by Jamey Aebersold, and adapted the new Jamey Aebersold Play-Along Volume 1 for Piano (2015).  Gillespie has taught summer jazz camps at Shell Lake Arts Center and Interlochen Arts Center.

Jeff Gottwig (trumpet) is a native of the pacific northwest.  He entered the U.S. Army in 1974, serving as a trumpet player/soloist with the 9th Infantry Division Band, Fort Lewis, Washington, the 298th Army Band, Berlin, Germany and the U.S. Army Band Europe, Heidelberg, Germany. After leaving the military in 1980 he moved to Minnesota where he attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, receiving his Associates degree in jazz history and performance, the Bachelor of Science degree in music education and his Masters in Music Education at the University of St. Thomas. Jeff was the Director of Bands at Farmington High School, Minnesota, for 30 years where he directed or co-directed three curricular jazz ensembles, four concert bands, pep band, marching band, and the musical pit orchestra.

Jeff is active as a clinician and adjudicator around the Midwest. He directed the Grammy Midwest Regional Honors High School Jazz Ensemble and has served as the State Chapter Vice-President of the International Association of Jazz Educators. Special performances by his groups include multiple performances at the Minnesota Music Educators Convention, a special Fourth of July performance at the Minnesota Governor's mansion, awarded a special performance for the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra, first place honors at the Eau Claire Jazz Fest, La Crosse Jazz Fest, and the McDonald's Jazz Festivals.

As an active musician around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, Jeff works, or has worked, with many of the areas top groups including: the JazzMn Big Band (www.jazzmn.org), the Minnesota Orchestra, The Cedar Avenue Big Band,  The Fine Line Band,  Mick Sterling, The Wolverines,  The Minnesota Vikings Band,  The Minnesota State Fair Orchestra,  The Rupert's Orchestra,  The Sevilles,   Synergy, George Faber and the Icons,   The Brian Kinney Band, RockIt,  The Latin Sounds Orchestra,  Salsa Blanca, Sabor Tropicale and many other performance situations.  His credits as a sideman include Harry Connick Jr.,  Thad Jones,  Steve Allen,  Jon Faddis,  Bobby Shew, Steve Houghton, Bob Hope,  B.J.Thomas,  Tony Orlando And Dawn,  The Manhattan Transfer,  Bobby Vinton,  Marlene Ricci,  The Four Tops,  Otis Day,  The Marvelettes,  Al Wilson,  Sam And Dave,  Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme,  Dionne Warwick,  Burt Bacarach,  The Glen Miller Orchestra,   The Temptations,  Little Anthony and The Imperials,  Isaac Hayes,  Doc Severinson,  Ray Charles,  and has recorded with Janet Jackson. 


Saxophonist and composer Aaron Hedenstrom has performed across the United States as a jazz saxophonist, clinician, and composer and serves as jazz saxophone professor at UW Eau Claire. Aaron has written numerous big band works, string arrangements, small group pieces, and chamber works. Some of his collaborations have included vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist Bob Reynolds, the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band, vocalist Marlene Verplanck, vocalist/actor Don Most and acclaimed indie artist S. Carey. As a saxophone performing artist, Aaron has been featured as a guest artist by universities such as the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Wichita State University, and Eastern Washington University. Aaron has performed at top-tier music venues nationwide including the Dakota Jazz Club, Snug Harbor, the Next Generation Jazz Festival, Scat Jazz Lounge, and the Eaux Claires Festival. Aaron exclusively plays and endorses Keilwerth saxophones. He has scores published with Sierra Music and Really Good Music.

Riley Helgeson is a freelance trumpet player and composer based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN.

Helgeson has toured North America and Europe with Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Friendly Fires (UK), and his own project, McNasty Brass Band. He has also performed on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” with Minneapolis-based McNasty Brass Band. His performances have been broadcast on MPR, The Current, and "The Lowertown Line" at Twin Cities PBS.

He has had the honor to perform with PJ Morton(Maroon 5), Stokely(Mint Condition), Fred Wesley(James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic) and John “Jabo” Starks(Bobby Bland, James Brown).

Other notable performances include shows at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts (MN), Fitzgerald Theater (MN), the Armory (MN), First Avenue (MN), the Fonda Theater (Los Angeles), The Fillmore (San Francisco), Monterey Jazz Festival (CA), Rochester Jazz Festival (NY), Saratoga Springs Jazz Festival (NY), Twin Cities Jazz Festival (MN), Winnipeg Jazz Festival (MB), and Pori Jazz Festival (Finland).

Riley is an active member of Twin Cities Jazz Composers’ Workshop and plays lead trumpet for Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra. He serves on the jazz faculty of Shell Lake Arts Center, WI, and maintains a private trumpet studio in the Twin Cities, MN.

Helgeson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. 

For More information please visit www.rileyhelgeson.com

Since graduating from the University of Minnesota (B.M. 1987) Mr. Scott Johnson has pursued a career as both a professional musician and educator.  His playing career has brought him to the stage with the likes of James Brown, Etta James and Jonathon Edwards.  He has recorded with blues greats Lowell Fulsom, Charles Brown and Big Jay Mcneely.  Currently, Mr. Johnson maintains a large and successful private lesson studio, teaches saxophone at Apple ValleyHigh school, is jazz band director for Sanford and Seward middle schools in Minneapolis, and is on staff at MacPhail Center for Music.  His current professional work is with the Cedar Avenue Big Band, the Bill Simenson Orchestra, Tim Patrick and the Blue Eyes Band, the Jerry Ohagan Orchestra, and he tours the country with Transit Authority - A Tribute to Chicago.


Kavyesh Kaviraj is a pianist, composer and arranger from India. Although primarily a jazz pianist, he is known for his versatility as a musician; thanks to his experience in different musical climates he is closely involved with settings of many different genres and styles. 

Kavyesh was introduced to music at a very young age; born into a musical family, he started playing the piano at the age of 2, and has since been garnering experience towards an expansive international career. Thanks to his family’s rich musical ancestry, Kavyesh has been fortunate to be educated in both Western classical and contemporary music, but also in Indian Classical music, including both Carnatic and Hindustani styles. He often attributes this wide span of musical taste and experience to his education and cultural involvement within his childhood. Born to Indian parents in Oman, he began his fledgling musical career in the small town of Sohar, from where he moved to India to further his musical development and education, and subsequently pursued a professional music education in the United States. He has garnered attention and acclaim from the various musical environments he has been a part of, including Indian, Middle-Eastern and American shores. 

Kavyesh graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2018, with a Bachelor of Music (B.M) degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Music. In 2019, Kavyesh received a full tuition grant to pursue a Masters’ degree at Berklee College’s Global Jazz Institute, where he was under the eminent tutelage of several jazz masters including Danilo Perez, Kenny Werner, JoAnne Brackeen among many others. He graduated in 2020 with a Master of Music (M.M) degree in Contemporary Performance.

Kavyesh is a member of the jazz quintet Mississippi, set to release their second album in 2021. He has performed with national and international artists from many different genres, including Roosevelt Collier, Jay Young and the Lyric Factory, Yolande Bruce, Debbie Duncan, Bruce Henry, Nooky Jones, Kevin Washington Quintet, Jamecia Bennett, Maryam Yusafzadeh, Desdamona, Toki Wright and several others. Recently Kavyesh's project KAYE Music, where he is the leader and composer, has gathered attention in the Twin Cities. KAYE Music will release a 4- track EP in 2021. 

Kavyesh is also a passionate music educator, with experience as a private instructor and experience as an educator in music academies and public schools alike, and enjoys leading jazz workshops and teaching music classes for children and youth. His compositions and arrangements for various ensembles and configurations have been featured on radio, TV and collaborative exhibitions.


Program Director, Jazz Ensemble and Combo Camp

Tom Luer is a freelance saxophonist who resides in Los Angeles, CA, and is a D’Addario Woodwinds Performing Artist.  His album "Project Popular" was released in 2011 to critical acclaim. Recent recording credits include Dave Slonaker’s Grammy nominated album “Intrada” and Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling's "The Brill Building Project". Tom has also recorded with the Lee Ritenour, the Alan Chan Orchestra, the Mike Barone Big Band, Wayne Bergeron Big Band, Cooper Phillips, the Bicoastal Collective, and Oliver Future.  Music from Tom’s CD was also featured in nationally broadcast promos by National Public Radio.  Tom can also be heard on the soundtrack of the film “Daddy’s Home”, a Paramount Pictures Production.

Tom recently performed on the NBC broadcast of “Sports Illustrated 50 Years of Beautiful” and on the “X-Factor” on Fox.  Previous television appearances include the American Music Awards, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the Ellen Degeneres Show.  Additional performance credits and tours include John Beasley’s “Monk’estra”, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Poncho Sanchez, Queen Latifah, Tom Wopat, Patrizio Buanne, and Engelbert Humperdinck .

Tom has a Master’s Degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Bachelor’s Degree in Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and additional graduate studies in jazz at the University of North Texas. As a music educator, Tom is currently an adjunct faculty member at Cal Poly Pomona.  Previous positions have included the University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, Bethel College, North Lake Community College and Butler County Community College.

Rich MacDonald, Professor Emeritus from Winona State University, recently retired as the director of jazz and percussion studies at WSU – a position he held from 1996-2000.  A native of Port Huron, Michigan, Dr. MacDonald was heavily influenced by Motown and rock music in the 1960’s emanating from nearby Detroit.  While attending college at the University of North Texas in the late 1970’s, he was introduced to the classic jazz of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and John Coltrane; modern groups led by Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Pat Metheny; and a wide range of big band music.  These influences continue to inform his playing today, as a drummer and vibraphonist, performing at jazz venues in the tri-state region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. He is also the principal percussionist with the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Symphony Orchestra.

As a drumset and percussion specialist, Dr. MacDonald has presented clinics throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is an endorsee of Sabian cymbals and Vic Firth sticks and mallets, serving on their respective education teams.  Some of Dr. MacDonald’s performance credits include: George Benson, Eddie Daniels, Slide Hampton, Milt Hinton, Arturo Sandoval, and three years touring experience with Ice Capades. 

Dr. MacDonald earned his Bachelor of Music (BM) degree in Jazz Studies and his Master of Music (MME) in Music Education from the University of North Texas.  His Doctorate (DA) is in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado.

Current pursuits include performing with the La Crosse Jazz Orchestra, the John Paulson Big Band, Safe Passage Jazz Quartet, and creating a series of pedagogical materials in books titled: Drumset Concepts:  Volumes I-V.

Christopher Olson has been a faculty member at the Arts Center since 2004, teaching during the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo & Improvisation Camps, and previously directed the Guitar Workshop.  During the school year, he teaches guitar and Jazz at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, Luther College in Decorah, IA, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Chris holds degrees from the University of North Texas and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has taught at several schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He has performed alone and with groups of all sizes, and as a guest artist or clinician, at events and venues throughout the Midwest. Chris's guitar playing is featured on several recordings, some of which include his original compositions, and he is currently part of several active ensembles. He has shared the stage with internationally renowned artists, including Ingrid Jensen, Tierney Sutton, and Maria Schneider, and with local, Twin Cities musicians, such as Debbie Duncan, Joan Griffith, and Laura Caviani. More information about Chris and his performing schedule can be found at:www.chrisolsonmusic.com.
Sue Orfield is an award-winning tenor saxophonist, composer, and educator who tours internationally and has recorded on hundreds of albums.  She makes her home in the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin, where in addition to teaching privately and writing/arranging music, she freelances, and fronts her own group, The Sue Orfield Band.  
Over the years Sue has shared the stage with many musical greats, among them Bo Diddley, Bobby McFerrin, The Indigo Girls, Ann Wilson (Heart), Dizzy Gillespie, Ivan Neville, and Jo Dee Messina.  She currently tours with The Tiptons Sax Quartet & Drums.  The Tiptons have just recorded and released (April 2021) their 14th album, Wabi Sabi.
website:  www.sueorfield.com
Tiptons Saxophone Quartet & Drums website:   http://thetiptonssaxquartet.com
Tiptons Saxophone Quartet & Drums facebook:   www.facebook.com/TheTiptonsSaxQuartet
Tiptons Saxophone Quartet & Drums bandcamp:  https://tiptonssaxquartet.bandcamp.com

Phil Ostrander is Assistant Professor of Trombone at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he conducts the Symphony Band and teaches private trombone. Prior to his work at Eau Claire, he held a faculty position in New York at SUNY Geneseo teaching trombone and jazz studies. Dr. Ostrander completed his doctoral studies in trombone performance and literature at the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, he was lead trombone in the award winning Eastman Jazz Ensemble. Dr. Ostrander received master's degrees in both trombone and wind conducting from the New England Conservatory, as well as a bachelor's and Performer's Certificate from Eastman. From 1999 to 2001, he taught trombone and conducted the wind ensemble at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. He has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Kansas City Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the popular chamber group Rhythm and Brass. Dr. Ostrander has recently been named Principal Trombone of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. He also teaches at two summer jazz camps in Wisconsin: the Shell Lake Arts Camp and Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp. An accomplished jazz trombonist, Dr. Ostrander has collaborated with jazz artists Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Jimmy Heath, Claudio Roditi and Rich Beirach. He is an active jazz clinician in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Karyn Quinn is in demand as a bassist throughout the Midwest.  She has performed in concerts with Kurt Elling, Wycliffe Gordon, Byron Stripling, Delfeayo Marsalis, Evan Christopher, and Eric Alexander among many others.

Karyn lives in La Crosse, WI and can be heard performing regularly with the La Crosse Jazz Orchestra, Safe Passage Jazz Quartet, Optimism Jazz Sextet and the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra. When not performing in those groups she is busy freelancing in the recording studio, musical theatre pit orchestras and with various bands.

Karyn has a M.M. Degree in Bass Performance and Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado and a B.S. in Music Education.  She was on the faculty at The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse from 1989 – 2017 where she directed the award – winning jazz ensembles, taught double bass and electric bass as well as courses in Jazz History, Improvisation, and Music Theory.  

Karyn can be heard on her trio album “Great Days” released in 2012 and on The Jazz MN Orchestra “Commission Project” released in 2018. Her method books for beginning electric bass students, “Bass Sessions, Vol. I and Vol. II, are available through the Kjos Music Company.  For more information visit her website karynquinn.com 



Dr. David Schmalenberger is currently an adjunct faculty member at Augsburg University and Anoka Ramsey Community College in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  He recently performed on drumset/percussion with the Laura Caviani trio, the Minnesota Orchestra and Charles Lazarus, the JazzMN big band with Maria Schneider, the Steeles, Grammy-nominated vocalist Karrin Allyson, the Freier Department (7-piece funk band), cabaret icon Marilyn Maye, the Joan Hutton Jazz Project, the Daisy Dillman Band, Take That!, and the Childrens Theatre Company.  He also recently recorded with vocalist Connie Evingson (“Sweet Happy Life”), guitarist David Singley (“Good Hope”), vocalist Vicky Mountain and guitarist David Martin (“Play On”), trumpeter Chuck Lazarus (“Lovejoy” and “Merry and Bright”), the Laura Caviani trio with Chris Bates (“Mysterious Thelonius” and “Confluence”), and the Bill Simenson Jazz Orchestra (“Big Alpaca”).  David is active as a clinician offering workshops in jazz, percussion, and world music. Schmalenberger has served as adjudicator/clinician for several jazz festivals, both regionally and nationally. He has also presented scholarly papers and clinics for the Percussive Arts Society, the Society for American Music, the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and the International Association of Jazz Education. Schmalenberger received his DMA in Percussion Performance and World Music from West Virginia University, Master of Music Degree in Orchestral Percussion from the University of Michigan, and Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies from Capital University.   David also endorses Premier drums and Paiste cymbals.

Dean Sorenson is Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota as well as a prolific and highly sought-after composer, arranger, trombonist, educator, and clinician. He received his bachelor’s degree in trombone performance from the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree in jazz arranging and composition from the Eastman School of Music.

Dean’s latest recording project is COLORS OF THE SOUL, a CD of original music for sextet. His most recent books include EXCELLENCE IN JAZZ PEDAGOGY as well as FIRST PLACE FOR JAZZ, a new and innovative method for beginning jazz players. He is the co-author of the STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE JAZZ ENSEMBLE METHOD and ADVANCED JAZZ ENSEMBLE METHOD, an innovative and comprehensive series for middle school and high school jazz ensembles. He is also the author of JAZZ COMBO SESSION and FIRST JAZZ PERFORMANCE, also under the Standard of Excellence banner. He has composed numerous pieces for concert band and jazz ensemble published by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company. He is also a contributing author to TEACHING MUSIC THROUGH PERFORMANCE IN JAZZ, edited by Richard Miles and published by GIA. As an advocate of jazz education and the expansion of the repertoire, he continues to develop creative materials and methods to help students and teachers better understand the art form.  An outstanding clinician, conductor, and soloist, he is frequently featured at festivals and conventions around the country and abroad. He also maintains a full schedule of concerts and recording dates as a Yamaha performing artist.

Mr. Sorenson has composed and arranged for numerous ensembles including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Airmen of Note, the United States Air Force Band, the United States Navy Band, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He is active as a commissioned composer and arranger for jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra, concert band, and chamber ensembles, and has also written several sacred choral pieces. For more information please visit www.deansorensonmusic.com.

Michael Walk is an Instrumental Music Instructor for Stillwater Area Schools, Stillwater, MN. He has been on the faculty of the SHELL LAKE ARTS CENTER since 1991.

He has performed with various well known music groups such as The Temptations, Idina Menzel, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Doc Severinson, The Jimmy Dorsey Big Band, the JAZZMN Big Band, The Minnesota Orchestra (Pops), Bob Hope, The Good Bad and the Funky, Sister Sledge, Franki Valli, Gladys Knight, Myron Floren, Artie Shaw Band, the Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra, and is a member of the JAZZAX Saxophone Quartet.

For more info, or for private lessons, please visit: www.walksax.com

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.