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.
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 of Music (Jazz Studies/Piano) at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. An active performer and teacher of jazz and classical piano, he has toured 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 Arts Center Jazz Collective, David Baker, Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra (including CDs, Basically Baker Volume 1 and 2), James Campbell, Steve Davis (drums), Everett Greene, Mike Hackett, Steve Houghton, Jazz Fables, Sylvia McNair, Dominic Spera, Wanda Stafford, Dave Stryker, Tom Walsh, the Aebersold Jazz Play-Along, Vol. 76 ("How to Learn Tunes" by David Baker), a solo jazz piano CD, Footprints (RIAX Records, 2003) and trio CDs, Live at the Station (Watercourse Records, 2008), and Third Base Line (Watercourse Records, 2011), and has performed with Jamey Aebersold, Eric Alexander, Ron Blake, Ralph Bowen, John Clayton, Jeff Coffin, 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, Rich Perry, Chris Potter, John Raymond, Rufus Reid, Arturo Sandoval, Walter Smith III, Jim Snidero, Willie Thomas, Allen Vizzutti, 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, 3rd printing 2015), published by Jamey Aebersold, and adapted the new Jamey Aebersold Play-Along Volume 1 for Piano (2015). Gillespie also teaches summer jazz camps at the Shell Lake Arts Center (Shell Lake, WI), Music For All/Bands of America (Ball State University), and Interlochen Arts Center (Interlochen, MI).
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.
Riley Helgeson is a Twin Cities-based composer, arranger, educator, and trumpet player. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2014 (BM trumpet performance), Helgeson has been actively touring the United States and Europe as well as freelancing at home. Recently, Riley performed on ABC’s “Shark Tank” with Minneapolis-based McNasty Brass Band. Other notable performances include the Monterey Jazz Festival(CA), Rochester Jazz Festival(NY), Saratoga Springs Jazz Festival (NY), Pori Jazz Festival(Finland), as well as concerts at the Dakota Jazz Club (MN) with trombonist Fred Wesley(James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic) and drummer John “jabo” Starks(Bobby Bland, James Brown).
Riley has been involved with the Shell Lake Arts Center since his years as a camper. Being a camper at SLAC inspired him to become a professional musician, and he can’t wait to share his love for music with everyone at camp!
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.
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 is the director of jazz and percussion studies at Winona State University in Winona, MN – a position he has held since 1996. 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.
David Milne serves as Professor of Music-Saxophone/Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, a position he has held since 1990. At UW-River Falls, David teaches applied saxophone, jazz improvisation, jazz history, music business, directs the UWRF Jazz Ensemble and RADD Jazz Series, and served as Music Department Chair from 2006-2015. Originally from Rochester, NY, David earned a DMA Saxophone Performance degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Ramon Ricker, and MM Woodwind Performance/BA in Music degrees from the Indiana University School of Music, where he studied with Eugene Rousseau. David serves as an Artist-Clinician for Selmer Saxophones and Vandoren Woodwind Products. David Milne has performed throughout the USA, Europe, and Asia as a soloist, chamber musician, clinician, and artist-in-residence. Dedicated to the performance of contemporary music, David Milne has fostered, commissioned, premiered, and recorded new works for chamber music ensembles with the ANCIA Saxophone Quartet, JAZZAX Saxophone Quartet, and Zeitgeist. David has recorded contemporary music on NAXOS International, New World Records, Innova Recordings, American Composers Forum, Artegra Records, and Artists' Quarter Records, and featured on Wisconsin, Minnesota, and National Public Radio. David has commissioned and premiered new works by award-winning composers. David's own compositions and arrangements for saxophone ensembles have been performed at the North American Saxophone Alliance and World Saxophone Congress conventions.
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.
Dr. David Schmalenberger is currently an adjunct faculty member at Augsburg University (Minneapolis), Anoka Ramsey Community College (Coon Rapids), and MSU-Mankato. He recently performed on drumset/percussion with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Adi Yeshaya big band, vocal groups Cantus and the Steeles, the Minneapolis Childrens Theatre Company, Synergy, and vocal cabaret icon Marilyn Maye. He also recently recorded with vocalist Connie Evingson (“Sweet Happy Life”), guitarist David Singley (“Good Hope”), 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 endorses Paiste cymbals and Premier drums.
Nick Schneider is rated as one of the top bass players in jazz today. He has performed with such greats as Randy Brecker, Eddie Higgins, Buddy Rich Big Band, Teddy Wilson, And The Tonight Show Band just to name a few. Nick currently teaches at Oakton Community College, The University of Wisconsin Indianhead Arts Center, and through his private studio.
Nick is also a member of The Bruce Oscar Trio which hosts several different jam sessions throughout Chicago.
In all of Nick's performing, he is always trying to educate younger players about jazz. He has put together an extensive listening and playing clinic designed for the beginner as well as the advanced player. Nick is also a member of the Arts Center Collective, a septet of musicians residing primarily in the upper Midwest. The Arts Center Jazz Collective is available for clinics and concerts. The group not only has an abundance of professional performance experience but they are also well-known educators who are devoted to passing the rich traditions of jazz on to up and coming musicians. In a recent interview with the Northwest Herald, he was quoted as saying "Our goal is to chase the future a little bit. It's America's art form. It's the only popular music we teach in high school curriculum. I'm a teacher. I teach so young people can perform and carry jazz with them."
Nick's latest CD "Pullin Strings" is available for purchase through ChicagoJazz.com.
Bill Sears has been Director of Jazz Studies and Instructor of Saxophone at the Interlochen Arts Academy since 1987 and at the Interlochen Arts Camp since 2010. The award-winning Interlochen Arts Academy Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combos, under Sears' leadership, are considered to be among the finest high school groups in the country.
An active jazz saxophonist, Sears has performed, toured, and recorded with many leading musicians including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Rick Margitza, Peter Erskine, Art Farmer, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson. He has also performed in backup orchestras for many popular artists, including Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, and The Temptations.
Sears also has two CD's under his own leadership, "Chasin' The Goal" and "With One Accord," both of which feature not only his engaging and individual saxophone voice, but also several of his compositions.
Sears is a Conn-Selmer performing artist and clinician and a Vandoren performing artist.
Laurie Marino Sears is the Director of Jazz Bands and an Adjunct Instructor of Saxophone and Woodwinds at Northwestern Michigan College since 2014. Laurie is also a faculty member of the Interlochen College of Creative Arts Adult Band Camp and has taught saxophone at Grand Valley State University. While in Chicago, she taught at Columbia College, Concordia University, the American Conservatory of Music and Triton College.
As a performer on saxophone, flute, and clarinet, Laurie works with numerous jazz groups, Broadway Grand Rapids, Broadway Wharton (East Lansing and Traverse City) and with the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Traverse Symphony Orchestras. Some of the national jazz and popular artists that Laurie has shared the stage with include Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minelli, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Henry Mancini, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and The Four Tops. While in Chicago, Laurie performed on the Chicago Jazz Festival, with orchestral pops presentations at Ravinia, with entertainers at the Chicago Theater and at numerous musical theaters venues.
Degrees and awards include a Bachelor of Music in Saxophone, a Master of Music in Woodwinds and a Performer’s Certificate from the Indiana University School of Music. Teachers include Eugene Rousseau, Fred Hemke and David Baker.
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 concert 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.
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.