Photo: Corinna Gray Photography

Christopher Burnett is a critically acclaimed alto saxophonist, educator, arts industry business leader, and composer who began his professional career with military jazz bands “going pro” directly upon graduating high school at 18 years old. Over the course of his career, Mr. Burnett has performed professionally around the world, recorded noteworthy albums as a leader, and has taught at the college-level. Mr. Burnett is the Chief, Executive Officer and co-directs the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PROFILE: Success-driven, visionary, and highly committed professional equipped with broad background in providing top-notch leadership and services within nonprofit, military, and corporate organizations; complemented with expertise in business startup, business development, jazz artist development, music education, and community outreach. Expert at planning and setting long-term strategic plans, as well as optimizing organizational efficiency, reducing costs, and surpassing business objectives. Recognized formally and professionally for excellent leadership capabilities in establishing high-performing and cross-functional teams, while maximizing human and financial resources. For more related information also see: |

Photo: James Ward Photography

Upon graduating from Lake High School, Terri Anderson Burnett attended Bowling Green State University as a music major. Ms. Burnett’s aptitude scores qualified her to attend the Westpoint Military Academy Preparatory School, but she decided to stay with music by joining the US Army Music Program and served as a Flute and Piccolo Player with the Army’s band at Ansbach, Germany. After completing her active duty military service tour, she returned to studies at Drury University and subsequently began teaching in public schools. Ms. Burnett furthered her studies in the education field through graduate work at the University of Missouri at Columbia and ultimately attained lifetime certification in the State of Missouri.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Upon conclusion of her career in the education field, and after relocating permanently to the Kansas City metro area, Ms. Burnett began working for the Veterans Administration assisting clients’ access to their hard-earned benefits. Ms. Burnett is the Chief, Financial Officer and co-directs the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more related information also see: |

Senior Program Budget Analyst, US Department of Defense
Photo: MjB Consulting

Dr. Mary Burnett entered active duty Air Force service immediately after graduating from Paola High School. While serving in uniform, she was one of nine distinguished graduates of her NCO Leadership School class; she was selected as the Military Airlift Command Cost Analyst of the Year; and, was honorably discharged. Dr. Burnett now serves as Senior Program Analyst (Budget) for PEO Apache Business Division, Budget Branch, supporting the PM International Apache Office, with the responsibility of managing and executing Foreign Military Sales (FMS) admin budget over $2.5M and the execution of FMS Case which includes 17 countries and 57 open cases with a budget over $15.6B. She has worked with Army RDT&E, Procurement, Working Capital Funds, and Operations and Maintenance Funds. Dr. Burnett’s certifications include Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certified; Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM); FM Certification DAWIA, Level II Certified; Program Management, Level I Certified; Business Cost Estimating and Financial Management, Level III Certified; Business Cost Estimating and Financial Management, Level II Certified; and Business Cost Estimating and Financial Management, Level I Certified.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Dr. Burnett received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration/ Information Systems; her Masters is in Management with a concentration in Acquisition and Contract Management; her Doctoral degree is in Business Administration, Specializing in Leadership. Dr. Burnett is involved in family life, her church community, and enjoys exploring the latest technologies, as well as various do-it-yourself home and garden projects. Dr. Burnett serves as a director of the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more related information also see: LinkedIn Profile

Music Educator, Kansas City Public Schools, Studio Owner, and Active Church Pastor
Photo: Carlos Moreno/ KCUR 89.3

Reverend Willie Thornton was born in Orleans, France; however, he was raised on a military base at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He is married to Brandy R. Thornton and has ten children. Rev. Thornton attended Lincoln University majoring in Music Education and minoring in Criminal Justice. Later, he graduated from the Kansas City Regional Police Academy, was first recruited as a patrol officer, and then worked undercover within the Vice Unit. After being shot in the chest in the line of duty, he changed his career. Rev. Thornton was the Director of Security and Vocal Music Teacher for the Center School District, African Center Prep Academy, and Southeast High School. He currently is the Choir Director and Piano Instructor at The Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts for the Kansas City Public School District. And his Choir ensemble students at Paseo recently performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Rev. Willie Thornton is the proud pastor of Mt. Washington Missionary Baptist Church and serves as a director of the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more information see: |

College Professor, Composer, and Record Label Executive
Photo: Paul Tsang

Erica Lindsay, composer and tenor saxophonist, is an Artist-in-Residence at Bard College where she teaches jazz composition and arranging and is an active performer, arranger and composer. A San Francisco native, Lindsay spent her early years in Europe where she studied with pianist Mal Waldron. She returned to the US to study at Berklee College of Music and then headed back to Europe where she performed with her own quintet and had guest performances with Frank Zappa and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. She composed and performed with such ensembles as the Unique Munich Saxophone Choir and the NDR Radio Big Band. Lindsay moved to New York City and began touring internationally with Melba Liston & Co. During this time she performed with jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Al Grey, Britt Woodman and Mary Lou Williams. Lindsay went on to perform with ensembles lead by McCoy Tyner, Clifford Jordon, Sumi Tonooka, Ted Curson, George Gruntz, Amira Baraka, Oliver Lake, Baikida Carroll, Howard Johnson and Jeff Siegel. More recently, Erica has been exploring orchestral writing, inspired by her experience as a jazz improviser. After participating in the first ever Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute she was selected to compose a piece for the American Composers Orchestra (Inner Dialogue) and then the Detroit Symphony (Mantra). Recent chamber pieces include Dance #1 for Solo Bass Clarinet and Further Explorations, performed by the Da Capo Chamber Players. Her more recent recordings include, Initiation, a collaboration with Sumi Tonooka, featuring Rufus Reid and Bob Braye and Further Explorations, from The Alchemy Sound Project.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: She is a co-founder and artist on the Artist Recording Collective label and serves as a director of the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more information see: |

Composer, Entrepreneur, and Record Label Executive
Photo: Paul Tsang

Sumi Tonooka (pronounced To-NO-ka) has been called a “fierce and fascinating composer and pianist” (Jazz Times), “provocative and compelling” (New York Times), and “continually inventive, original, surprising, and a total delight,” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid). Tonooka’s career has been chronicled on several highly regarded jazz books, including Living the Jazz Life by Royal Stokes, ln The Moment by Francis Davis, and Madame Jazz by Leslie Gourse (all on Oxford University Press). In his liner notes to pianist, composer and educator Sumi Tonooka’s fifth CD, Long Ago Today, journalist Russ Musto restated his praise from thirty years ago:”…it has been a pleasure to hear her blossom into one of the most talented musicians of her generation.” During a career spanning more than 30 years that has taken her from bases in Philadelphia & Boston, to New York & Seattle, Tonooka has been developing a body of work that surprises and delights audiences – quietly piling up accolades from jazz writers and fellow musicians. Her recent activity as a composer includes receiving the Music Alive: New Partnerships residency with The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra through New Music USA to take place in November 2015. The residency will culminate with a premier of her symphonic work Full Circle and a new work for woodwind quintet.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: As a professional response to an inherent void within the music industry, Tonooka, along with alto saxophonist Chris Burnett and tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay, co-founded the Artists Recording Collective (ARC), an internationally recognized brand and professional recording label. She now divides her time between her responsibilities as the Chief, Public Relations Officer for ARC, composing and performing for an increasingly widespread audience of jazz aficionados. She serves as a director of the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more information see: |

Entrepreneur, Arts Advocate, and Business Executive

Elizabeth Beshenich is from a military family background and has subsequently traveled extensively. She remains an active arts advocate of many decades. Having a firsthand understanding of the positive impact of learning music, Liz encouraged applied musical study as an integral part of the formal education of her children as a matter of primary coursework over the years. In addition to her entrepreneurial activities, she still finds time to serve her church, including often singing in the choir, and to advocate for the arts throughout the greater Kansas City community.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Liz co-founded Beshenich Muir & Associates fifteen years ago. Beshenich Muir & Associates, LLC specializes in program management services including: Army Functional Concept Doctrine Review, Campaign of Learning Engagement, Capabilities Based Assessment, Combat Development, CONOPS Development, Current & Future Operations, Data Collection & Analysis, Doctrine Development & Integration, Exercise Support, Experiment Support, Functional Area Analysis, and Functional Needs Analysis.She serves as a director of the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more information see:

Entrepreneur, Arts Advocate, and Business Executive

George Beshenich has an extensive active duty military leadership background and is an expert in organizational effectiveness. George is a happy family man, and has traveled extensively. He remains an active arts advocate of many decades. Having a firsthand understanding of the positive impact of learning music, he encouraged applied musical study as an integral part of the formal education of his children as a matter of their primary coursework over the years. In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, he still finds time for serving his church and to advocate for the arts throughout the greater Kansas City community.

ARTS EXECUTIVE PROFILE: George co-founded Beshenich Muir & Associates fifteen years ago. Beshenich Muir & Associates, LLC specializes in program management services including: Army Functional Concept Doctrine Review, Campaign of Learning Engagement, Capabilities Based Assessment, Combat Development, CONOPS Development, Current & Future Operations, Data Collection & Analysis, Doctrine Development & Integration, Exercise Support, Experiment Support, Functional Area Analysis, and Functional Needs Analysis. He serves as a director of the Public Charity nonprofit organization, KANSAS CITY AREA YOUTH JAZZ, INC. a 501(c)(3) entity which also includes four total programs: (1) Youth Jazz, (2) Artists Recording Collective; (3) Bird Boot Camp; and (4) Jazz Artistry Now. For more information see:



*Emeritus and a Founding Advisory Council Board Member

Appointed by City of Kansas City Resolution No. 941766 as the National Jazz Ambassador of Kansas City, Queen Bey Blythe listened to singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald as a child. Bey said she remembers singing as a kindergartener, changing the nursery rhymes to reflect the musical feel, inflections, and nuances of the jazz music she heard at home. When Bey was twelve years old, she entered a talent show contest called “Stars of Tomorrow” sponsored by a Kansas City radio station at the legendary Orchid Room jazz club. Bey sang “Double Crossing Blues” by Johnny Otis (and written in 1950) accompanied by the house band. And, before the contest had officially ended the owner of the Orchid Room offered her a regular job singing on Monday nights. Since she was a minor, and the Orchid Room was a jumping joint – as they referred to the top jazz clubs in those days, Bey said she required a chaperone while backstage as a stipulation to perform. It was during one of these occasions as a young girl that Bey first met the legendary singer, Billie Holiday (Eleanora Fagan). Bey continued to sing at the Orchid Room – never straying from the stage, and she needed a constant stream of chaperones. Most singers and band members were delighted to “look after” the teenager with the big voice. Jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Linda Hopkins became her chaperones and her teachers. Bey’s extensive repertoire of jazz and blues standards, innovative and often unknown songs draw from her first-hand experiences working with many of the legends of jazz and blues. Bey has performed with B.B. King, The Platters, and the jazz pianist Earl Garner. She received rave reviews in the national entertainment magazine Variety and The New York Times for her act at New York’s Michael’s Pub. Variety magazine wrote: “(Her) natural and understated approach to the material makes for a crowd pleaser.” Bey received the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award and induction into the Elder Statesman of Kansas City Jazz, Inc. She was most recently honored by the Jazz District Renaissance Corporation with a medallion on the Jazz Walk of Fame at the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District in Kansas City along with saxophonist Ben Webster, trombonist Melba Liston, vocalist Luqman Hamza, Louis Armstrong, George Benson and Nina Simone. In anticipation of Bey’s Jazz Walk of Fame induction, Joe Klopus of the Kansas City Star wrote: “Nowadays if you search the Internet for (Queen Bey), you see pages of references to Beyoncé Knowles. But no one who’s heard the actual Queen Nethra Bey sing will mistake the identity. This exemplary modern-jazz stylist from Kansas City has left a big impression in clubs and concert halls around the world, and she’s also excelled in theater roles.” Bey performs regularly and travels promoting jazz and blues music on behalf of the United States and jazz organizations. Her travels have taken her from Brazil to Germany to Greece. Bey was a guest of Emperor Haile Selassie as a student at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia where her roommate was Alice Coltrane. Among recent performances, Bey appeared with her quartet under the musical direction of guitarist Will Matthews (a current member of the Count Basie Orchestra) at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival. She performed with her quartet as the featured artist at the Spring presentation of the “Live at the Hollywood Theater” concert series in the northwest Kansas City metro. Bey has recorded three albums as a leader, “Comin’ Thru,” “Dues Paid in Full,” and “So This is London.” Bey’s television debut was in the NBC mini-series, “Matter of Justice,” co-starring Patty Duke and Martin Sheen. Her film debut was in the movie “Ninth Street” with Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes. Bey’s stage, television and in film credits also include Broadway musicals – “Ain’t Misbehavin,” “One Mo’ Time,” and “Blues in the Night.” Queen Bey is inducted as a member of the Jazz Walk of Fame on June 4, 2016.


Kansas City / UMKC Conservatory Professor Emeritus, Composer, and Active Recording Artist

Robert Michael Watson Jr., known professionally as Bobby Watson, is an American saxophonist, composer, and educator. Watson was born in Lawrence, Kansas, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. He attended the University of Miami at the same time as Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, and Bruce Hornsby. He graduated in 1975, moved to New York City, and became music director for the Jazz Messengers from 1977 to 1981. After leaving the band, he was productive as a session musician, recording with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Max Roach, Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter, and Carmen Lundy. He formed the band Bobby Watson & Horizon with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, with whom he played throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Watson led a group known as the High Court of Swing (a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges), the sixteen-piece Tailor-Made Big Band, and is a founding member of the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, an all-horn, four-piece group with alto saxophonist Ed Jackson, tenor saxophonist Rich Rothenberg, and baritone saxophonist Jim Hartog. Watson also composed a song for the soundtrack to the movie A Bronx Tale (1993). A resident of New York for most of his professional life, he served as a member of the adjunct faculty and taught saxophone privately at William Paterson University from 1985 to 1986 and the Manhattan School of Music from 1996 to 1999. He is involved with the Thelonious Monk Institute’s annual Jazz in America high school outreach program. In 2000, he was approached to return to his native midwestern surroundings on the Kansas-Missouri border. Watson was selected as the first William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri, Distinguished Professorship in Jazz Studies. As the director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music, while still managing a worldwide performing schedule, Watson’s ensembles at UMKC have received several awards.


Los Angeles / Kansas City Native and Legendary Jazz Artist

Donald Dean is a jazz drummer who is a native of Kansas City and based in Los Angeles. His first instruments were the French horn and trumpet. Mr. Dean is a graduate of Kansas City’s famous R.T. Coles Vocational High School and received his diploma from the University of Kansas, majoring in music. He has performed professional engagements with: Monty Alexander, Steve Allen, Curtis Amy, Roy Ayers, Benny Bailey, Eddie Baker, H.B. Barnum, Marcus Belgrave, Lou Blackburn, Arthur Blythe, Willie Bobo, George Bohanan, John Bolivar, Richard Boone, Jimmy Bond, Bobby Bradford, Oscar Brashear, Vernell Bright, Garnett Brown, Ray Brown, Gary Burton, John Carter, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Ray Charles, Don Cherry, Jeff Clayton, John Clayton, Arnette Cobb, Charles “Dolo” Coker, George Coleman, Ornette Coleman, Buddy Collette, John Collins, Joe Comfort, Conte Condoli, Bob Cooper, Curtis Counce, Hank Crawford, Ray Crawford, Sonny Criss, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Durham, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Roy Eldridge, Teddy Edwards, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy “Night Train” Forrest, Sonny Fortune, Slim Gaillard, Larry Gales, Terry Gibbs, Dexter Gordon, Joe Gordon, Earl Grant, Thurman Green, Wardell Grey, John Handy, Gene Harris, Hampton Hawes, Coleman Hawkins, Andrew Hill, Red Holloway, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, Carmel Jones, Clifford Jordan, Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Keyes, Roland Kirk, Scotty LaFaro, Charles Loyd, Harold Land, Yusef Lateef, Hubert Laws, Joe Mainie, Sal Marquez, Onzy Matthews, Pete Meyers, Billy Mitchell, Blue Mitchell, Red Mitchell, James Moody, Monk Montgomery, Wes Montgomery, Dick Morgan, Frank Morgan, Abe Most, Sam Most, Les McCann, Howard McGhee, Al McKibbon, Jay McShann, Phineas Newborn Jr., Charles Owens, Gary Peacock, Curtis Pegler, Art pepper, Bobby Pierce, Herman Riley, Shorty Rogers, The Jazz Crusaders (Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Wayne Henderson), Pharoah Saunders, Clifford Scott, Shirley Scott, Michael Session, Bud Shank, George Shearing, Jack Sheldon, Andy Simpkins, Howlett Smith, Jimmy Smith, Louis Spears, Maurice Spears, Sonny Stitt, Horace Tapscott, The Three Sounds, Kevin Toney, Stanley Turrentine, Tommy Turrentine, Leroy Vinegar, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Roosevelt Wardell, Doug Watkins, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Ben Webster, Buster Williams, Claude Williams, John B. Williams, Gerald Wilson, Jack Wilson, Ricky Woodard, Eddie Harris, etc. Vocalists and entertainers: Lorez Alexander, Ernestine Anderson, Ernie Andrews, Betty Carter, Miki Champion, June Christie, Kenny Coleman, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Hartman, Bill Henderson, Al Hibbler, Linda Hopkins, Herb Jeffries, Etta Jones, Gladys Knight, Gloria Lynn, Miki Lynn, Gloria Smith, Barbara Morrison, Carmen McRae, Dee Dee McNeil, Michelle Nichols, Anita O’Day, Freda Payne, King Pleasure, Queen Bey, Lou Rawls, Della Reese, Little Jimmy Scott, Nancy Sinatra, O.C. Smith, Dakota Staton, Dinah Washington, Maxine Weldon, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Spanky Wilson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Nichelle Nichols, The Nicholas Brothers, Miki Lynn, Milt Trenier. Mr. Dean has recorded with: Earl Anderza, Kenny Coleman, Ray Crawford, Andrew Hill, Marvin Jenkins, Carmel Jones, Harold Land, Yusef Lateef, Ron Carter, Les McCann/ Eddie Harris (Suisse Movement), Scotty Young, Hampton Hawes, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Gerald Wilson, Horace Tapscott, Queen Bey, Luluk Purwanto & The Helsdingen trio, among others.


*Emeritus and a Founding Advisory Council Board Member

Jazz composer and trumpeter Marcus Hampton, nephew of Slide Hampton and cousin of Lionel Hampton, was a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, a city known for producing prolific jazz musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, David Baker, Larry Ridley, James Spaulding, Jimmy Coe, Leroy Vinnegar, and Pookie Johnson among many others. He completed a full military career as a performing artist with the Army Bands Career Program, serving in military band organizations in Europe and the United States. Hampton served as a staff arranger and jazz soloist throughout his career, culminating as a Special Band Musician assigned with The United States Continental Army Band (TUSCAB) at the US Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) on historic Fort Monroe, Virginia.


Kansas City / Arts Executive, Educator, and Active Recording Artist

Gregory A. Carroll is a seasoned arts executive, performer, and educator.  He currently serves as the Director of Development with Youth Symphony of Kansas City and founded and operates Midnight Blue Jazz, LLC – A global jazz & executive consultancy providing creative, scholarly, and strategic services to the non-profit, education, and corporate communities. Mr. Carroll recently completed an 8-year appointment as Chief Executive Officer of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri where he successfully led fund development efforts generating more than $18M through municipal contract negotiations, corporate and foundation sponsorships, contributions and earned revenues.  Under his leadership, the Museum has become a viable destination attraction for the City of Kansas City and has garnered numerous awards and recognitions of distinction including its Blue Room Jazz Club being named as one of the world’s top 100 jazz venues by Downbeat Magazine and its Jazz and Blues Festival being selected as Kansas City’s Visitor’s Choice for Best Music Festival by the Convention and Visitors Association. Gregory A. Carroll came to the American Jazz Museum after a successful 10-year appointment as Director of Education with the International Association for Jazz Education where he was responsible for directing its education and outreach programs globally.  Prior to that appointment, Mr. Carroll served as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado. Past honors include listing among the 100 Most Influential African Americans in Kansas City; the Presser Scholar for the University of Northern Colorado School of Music; and Colorado Jazz Educator of the Year. His high school and college groups have earned a total of seven DownBeat Student Music Awards for best and outstanding performances in the jazz category. As a highly active performing artist, recording artist, education consultant, and clinician, Mr. Carroll can be heard on twenty-one recording projects with the likes of Everett Devan, Angela Hagenbach, Hugh Ragin Collective, Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet, Leslie Drayton, Marc Sabatella, Peter Barbieri, Cat’s Night Out, The James Ward Band, University of Colorado, Greeley Central High School, University of Northern Colorado, and Denver Public Schools. Selected performances as accompanying musician with celebrated jazz artists including, Clark Terry, George Benson, Dave Grusin, Don Grusin, Nelson Rangell, Chico Freeman, Bobby Shew, Phil Wilson, Don Menza, Diana Reeves, Louie Bellson, Gary Foster, Rob McConnell, Kenny Werner, Kenny Barron, Dr. Billy Taylor, Richie Cole, Red Holloway, Bobby Watson, Steve Houghton, Shelly Berg, John Blake, Stéphane Grappelli, Frank Potenza, Connaitre Miller, Orbert Davis, Horace Young, Dana Landry, Eric Applegate, Reggie Thomas, Willie Hill,  Ron McCurdy, Steve Houghton, and others. Selected RecordingsGreg Carroll, Michael Pagan 2+2 – Kansas City, MO – ARC Label. (2018). For the Love of You – Everette DevanKansas City, MO – Independent Label. (2014). Groove Axis – James Ward Band. Kansas City, MO – Independent Label. (2010). Weaver of Dreams – Angela Hagenbach. Kansas City, MO – Amazon, Records. (1999). Shavewo – Midnight Blue Jazz QuartetDenver, CO – Independent Label, MBJQ. (1998). Everything That Grows –  Peter Barbieri.Boulder, CO – Independent Label. (1997). Waking Up the Flatirons – University of Colorado Jazz Ensemble  (1997). Feel the Sunshine – Hugh Ragin.Denver, CO – Independent Label. (1996). – Marc Sabatella.Fort Collins, CO – Warner Bros. (1996). Estes – Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet.Boulder, CO – Independent Label, MBJQ. (1995). Jazz House Party – Leslie Drayton.Denver, CO – Independent Label. (1994). Back To Saturn – Marc SabatellaFort Collins, CO. Black Saint. (1993). Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet. Denver, CO – Independent Label, MBJQ. (1991). Jazz Conceptions. Greeley Central High School Jazz Combo. Greeley, CO. (1988). Changes Over Time – Cat’s Night OutBroomfield, CO – Independent Label. (1988). Mr. Carroll sits on the Kansas City Jazz ALIVE Board of Directors; the Jaris Foundation; and has served on boards of the Kansas State University Board of Trustees; the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association; Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts; and City of Kansas City, MO – Arts Commission. Carroll holds a BME degree from the University of Northern Colorado and an MME from the University of Colorado – Boulder.


Los Angeles / Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and Active Recording Artist

The product of humble beginnings, reedman Michael Session emerged from the Avalon Gardens housing projects in south Los Angeles. There, his friends gathered at a local Teen Post to hear budding musicians play, including his older brother, Jessie. At age 18, Michael pulled his brother’s instrument from the closet and began to play. Undaunted by his lack of experience, Mr. Session was hooked, so he bought his first horn. His primary influences were Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter. After hearing many classic recordings by these giants, Michael embarked on his own odyssey. A graduate of Los Angeles High School, Michael enrolled at Trade Tech to pursue a career as a technical printer. Almost immediately, Michael realized that music was his true calling. In 1973, the self-taught musician attended L.A. City College where he studied theory and harmony. Four years later, Mr. Session joined Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. Under Tapscott’s tutelage, Michael learned how to write music before he could actually read it. He honed his skills in orchestration as he learned how to follow musical direction. Much of Mr. Session’s growth occurred under Tapscott’s watchful eye; this important period is carefully chronicled by historian Steve Isoardi in his celebrated book, “The Dark Tree” (University of California Press). Following a five-year stint with Tapscott, Michael joined US Army Music where he played saxophone in a military band. His formal training continued while he was stationed in Germany. After Michael was honorably discharged from the military, he toured Europe extensively as both a leader and sideman before returning to the United States in 1987. Civilian life was fruitful as Mr. Session continued to build a solid reputation throughout America and abroad. He has played with such stellar artists as Oscar Brashear, Phil Ranelin, Sonship Theus, Lester Robinson, Thurman Green, Arthur Blythe, Teddy Edwards, Bobby Bradford, John Carter, Dr. Art Davis, Billy Childs, and the poet, Kamau Daáood. In the early nineties, Michael ventured into the studio to lead a recording date titled, ‘n Session ( ITMP 970074). He masterfully composed and arranged all of the material on the album which was released on the German-based, ITM Pacific label. Henry Franklin, John Williams, Steve Smith, and Charles Owens comprised the album’s supporting cast of musicians. A veteran concert performer, one 1995 engagement in Europe was a personal highlight to savor. He vividly recalls playing before a capacity crowd of over 40,000 people in the audience at a venue in Moers, Germany. “After living in Europe for nine years, I was quite familiar with the enthusiasm of its audiences,” Sessions said. Several critically acclaimed duo and quartet engagements in Germany would ultimately lead to a reunion with the legendary Tapscott. “I was as happy as Horace was when he finally booked the whole Ark over there.” Michael Session inherited the helm of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Orchestra from Tapscott, serving as musical director and leader for several decades. The ensemble is still active as ever under the leadership of his son, Mekala. As a formidable triple threat, he plays the soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones and can be heard on numerous recordings by noteworthy artists and ensembles.


*Emeritus and a Founding Advisory Council Board Member

Leon Brady is an educator and professional percussionist who earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Music Education from Tennessee State University. He started his career in Kansas City in 1959, at Northeast Junior High and later moved to Sumner High School where he taught marching band, orchestra and jazz band and earned many awards for excellence. From 1976 to 2000, he owned and operated Brady & Sons Music Company & Studio. In 2000, he founded Kansas City Youth Jazz and was its Musical Director until 2011. Today Leon instructs percussion students, both privately and in groups at the Brady Percussion Academy, where he has developed a unique program for drum lines and drum set students as young as four-years-old. Mr. Brady has also performed with many national and internationally recognized musicians over the years. While serving in the US Air Force, he performed regularly with John Williams and Frank Hitner, and later toured and recorded with Ray Charles. He has also performed with Max Roach, Clark Terry, George Salisbury, Marilyn Maye, Grover Washington, Carmel Jones, George Duke, John Park, and many others. 


*Emeritus and a Founding Advisory Council Board Member

Bill Crain was the director of The Institute of Audio Engineering Arts (IAEA) program, recording engineer and managing member of BRC Audio Productions, Inc. and served as the first Musical Director and Engineer of Kansas City Area Youth Jazz. Mr. Crain was raised in Concord, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. While in high school he studied piano and played clarinet in the school band. Fortunately, his high school band director was a Jazz fan and frequently took the interested students to San Francisco to hear live Jazz at “Basin Street West” and other clubs that allowed minors. These special music experiences would greatly influence many of Mr. Crain’s future life decisions. He also had a great interest in electronics, took classes for four years, and began to experiment with electronics repair and recording technology. After high school, Mr. Crain entered California State University, Chico (CSUC) with a major in electronics and a minor in mathematics. After one year he switched to music as a major and studied saxophone, clarinet, flute, organ, and composition. While in college Mr. Crain played organ, electric piano, and saxophone in Rock and Jazz bands while building p.a. systems and assisting as a recording engineer on the side. He taught music in California’s public school system for three years. Relocating to the midwest, Mr. Crain began performing full time and spent years touring with various Rock, Jazz, and national touring Big Band, Pop, and Soul/R&B acts. After discovering and marrying his “better half” he returned to academia, studying and teaching full time at Ball State University in Indiana. While working on his doctoral degree in woodwinds and conducting, Mr. Crain taught the Jazz Studies classes and directed the Jazz Ensembles at the university while continuing to lead his own professional Jazz groups as well as perform and tour with national acts. After his time at Ball State University, Mr. Crain moved to Missouri where he taught music at Central Missouri State University (CMSU) near Kansas City. During his four years on the music department faculty at CMSU, Mr. Crain taught Classical and Jazz saxophone, proposed and wrote the curriculum for the Jazz Studies program, led the CMSU Jazz Lab Ensemble to national prominence, became an in-demand Jazz soloist and clinician, and was awarded a lifetime membership in the International Association of Jazz Educators. While at CMSU, Mr. Crain became involved in the vibrant recording and live Jazz scene in Kansas City. Upon leaving CMSU, Mr. Crain moved to his long-time home in Kansas City. He became a regular presence on the local and regional Jazz circuit and concurrently garnered a prestigious reputation as a “musical” recording engineer at his own BRC Audio Productions. Mr. Crain earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Masters of Arts in Music Composition, with focuses on theory and conducting, at California State University at Chico; and completed his ABD focusing on commercial woodwinds and conducting, in the Doctor of Arts program at Ball State University. He produced, engineered, and appeared on countless stellar recordings. His own debut commercial album was released and distributed worldwide on the Artist Recording Collective LLC’s ARC label


Kansas City / Gem Theater Cultural and Performing Arts Center and Entrepreneur 

As Founder of The Gem Theater Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Pat Jordan spearheaded the re-design and renovation of the Gem Theater in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City. Ms. Jordan then led the operations of the theater; oversaw theatrical and musical productions and marketed the facility to a variety of renters including corporations, production companies, and arts organizations. Ms. Jordan oversaw the productions of several original works, including “18th & Vine: The Musical” and “Follow Your Dreams”, the stage play of Bessie Coleman, the first African American pilot in the United States. That production aired on the local PBS station and PBS affiliates across the country.  She also co-presented August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running” in a split run between White Recital Hall and the Gem Theater venues.  Jordan also co-produced the first “Battle of the Bands” between jazz bands of Kansas City and New Orleans; and presented the Kansas City Symphony with a special appearance by classical pianist Andre Watts. The Gem non-profit organization recently moved its headquarters and now owns the Old Fire Station No. 11 where and its offices are on the 2nd floor. It operates the Vine Street Studio Art Gallery on the first floor. Ms. Jordan has curated over 25 professional artists in the gallery, and annual student art shows by the Paseo School of the Fine and Performing Arts, Kansas City’s only signature arts-centered high school. As a special outreach project, the Gem recently purchased an abandoned house in the Key Coalition neighborhood, turning it into The Art House. Ms. Jordan is overseeing this unique community outreach project, with the goal of reproducing it in other neighborhoods as a unique way to contribute to neighborhood stabilization in otherwise desolate areas of Kansas City’s urban core. Ms. Jordan has served on numerous arts boards including the: Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; Folly Theater; Theater League; and the Kansas City Ballet and the Advisory Board of the Harriman-Jewell Arts Series. She was named a Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts.  She is a member of the ArtsKC Arts Advocacy Advisory Board; and the Kansas City Ballet’s Emeritus Board. Ms. Jordan is also a recipient of the Kansas City, Kansas Shareholders Award; the Economic Development Corporation, Cornerstone Award; and the Missouri Arts Council’s Leadership Award.


Kansas City / Kansas City Jazz Academy, Professor of Music, and Active Recording Artist

Clarence Smith is a professional percussionist and the coordinator/ instructor of music at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. As an educator with specific expertise in jazz, Smith is a frequent guest director of honors jazz ensembles and is in demand as a jazz/percussion clinician and adjudicator. He is the founder and director of the annual three-day 18th and Vine Jazz Festival for middle school and high school students. Smith was artistic director of Kansas City Youth Jazz; founder and director of Metropolitan Jazz Workshop-Kansas City and was recently selected to lead the American Jazz Museum’s Kansas City Jazz Academy. He was named “High School Jazz Educator of the Year” by Downbeat Magazine and was the recipient of the first Ahmad Alaadeen Award for Excellence in Jazz Education. As a drummer for groups that perform in genres including jazz and R&B, Smith is an active participant in the Kansas City music scene. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Central Methodist University (Missouri) and a master’s degree in arts education from Lesley University, Boston. Professor Smith is also President of the Missouri Association for Jazz Education.


Kansas State University / Professor of Music, Author, and Active Recording Artist

Dr. Wayne E. Goins, University Distinguished Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Kansas State University, has performed with such greats as legendary guitarist Kenny Burrell, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Clark Terry, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, organist Jimmy McGriff and many others. Goins completed his PhD. at The Florida State University, with teaching experience in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta, where he conducted jazz ensembles and taught guitar at Morehouse College, Emory University, and Kennesaw State University. Dr. Goins authored the award-winning book, Blues All Day Long: The Jimmy Rogers Story, published by University of Illinois Press in 2014. Goins also authored A Biography Of Charlie Christian: Jazz Guitar’s King of Swing (2005) by The Edwin Mellen Press. Two additional books, The Jazz Band Director’s Handbook: A Guide To Success (2003), and Emotional Response to Music: Pat Metheny’s Secret Story (2001), are also published by The Edwin Mellen Press. In 2006 Goins wrote The Wise Improvisor, a college textbook for all levels jazz improvisation. Goins is the founder of Little Apple Records, his independent jazz label that has released six albums featuring his guitar performances: Chronicles of Carmela, West Coast Swing, Standard Fare, Smokin’ at The Oak Bar, Bluesin’ With The B3, and Home…Cookin! Goins produced his latest CD release on his Little Apple Records label, Last Call by Rick Smith, who serves as the second guitarist in Goins’ della Voce Quartet. Goins writes regularly for Living Blues magazine, ArtsATL magazine, Positive Feedback magazine and Jazz Ambassador magazine, and is a feature columnist for Jazz Improv magazine, where he has written extensive articles and interviews on guitarists Charlie Christian, Will Matthews, Kenny Burrell, Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Bobby Watson, and others. Dr. Goins has published several biographical entries in The Encyclopedia of the Blues as well as the Grove Dictionary of American Music. Dr. Goins is currently writing the definitive biography on the Grammy-Award winning blues musician Taj Mahal.


Virginia Symphony Orchestra / Woodwind Artist, Personnel Director, and Active Recording Artist

James Nesbit, is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Plum High School and Duquesne University.  He was solo clarinet with the New York Harlem Opera Ensemble’s European tour of Porgy and Bess (1981-82), and the lead alto saxophonist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (1982-84). He has appeared with Tony Bennett, Wayne Newton, Barbara Mandrell, Natalie Cole, Mel Torme, Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Frank Sinatra Jr., Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lionel Hampton, Frank Foster, Jimmy Heath, Milt Hinton, Al Jarreau, Christian McBride, Diane Schuur, Arturo Sandoval, and Jon Faddis, to name just a few.  Since the early 1990s, he has performed regularly with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, The O’Jays. 2018 found Mr. Nesbit touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd on their “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” which can be heard and seen on the CD/Bluray DVD “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour Lyve”. As a soloist, Mr. Nesbit has appeared at Carnegie Hall with the Virginia Symphony. Currently, Mr. Nesbit performs with the American Saxophone Quartet and can also be heard on the Great American Music Ensemble’s 2016 Release, “It’s All In The G.A.M.E” that reached #4 on the jazz charts. Mr. Nesbit was an instructor of woodwinds at the Armed Forces School of Music and has served on the faculties at Old Dominion University, Hampton University, and Chowan University. He is currently the instructor of saxophone and jazz winds at the College of William and Mary, as well as the teacher of saxophone and bassoon at the Governor’s School for the Arts (Virginia). Mr. Nesbit has been the Personnel Manager for the Virginia Symphony since 2007. He travels abroad, frequently conducting chamber music workshops for deserving students in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In 2019, Mr. Nesbit traveled to Cuba to participate in a jazz festival and work with the students at the Conservatorio Estaban Salas. He has served as President of the Board of Directors of the Hampton Roads Chamber Players since 2016.


Kansas City / H&R Block, Conn-Selmer Clinician, and Active Recording Artist

Born in Cincinnati, B.J. Jansen has established himself as a charismatic and dynamic performer, composer, bandleader and educator on and off the stage.  Mr. Jansen’s journey in music began at age 10 when his father bought him an Alto Saxophone and gave him recordings of Gerry Mulligan and Charlie Parker. He later found his true voice on the Baritone Saxophone while performing in various college ensembles. His musical journey took him from the Midwest to the East Coast when he relocated to Philadelphia in 2004. It was in Philadelphia that he found the “heart beat” of Jazz. He spent three years learning on the streets of Philadelphia before relocating yet again to New York City in 2007. In New York City, Mr. Jansen had the opportunity to learn from and perform with some of the greatest living musicians working today.  He recorded multiple albums as a leader and led ensembles in many of the most respected Jazz venues in New York City. Mr. Jansen has been based in the historic Jazz Town of Kansas City since 2018. The KC area is the birthplace and home of modern jazz icon Charlie Parker. Mr. Jansen continues to forge his own artistic path by performing on the hallowed grounds of Jazz in Kansas City, New York, and beyond. The life-long study of Music has taught him many lessons about art and life. Realizing the importance of giving back, Mr. Jansen hopes to continue to form alliances to improve the lives of people through music. He earned an MBA in Music Management from the William Paterson University of New Jersey and a BA in Jazz Studies from the University of Louisville, School of Music. B.J. Jansen is an Endorsing Artist for Yanagisawa Saxophones of Japan and Harry Hartmann’s Fiberreed of Germany. In addition to directing the ARC Student Jazz Jam Session program at 424 Lounge, he’s also a Conn Selmer Clinician and has presented music industry clinics at universities and the Jazz Education Network conference. As a recording artist, Mr. Jansen appears on releases from Artists Recording Collective (ARC) and RoninJazz label catalogs. “Tradition” (ARC-0705, 2019) is Mr. Jansen’s latest commercial release and features him in a quartet with George Burton, Dezron Douglas, and Wayne Smith, Jr. His 2017 release, “Common Ground,” features Delfeayo Marsalis, Ralph Peterson, Duane Eubanks, Dezron Douglas, and Zaccai Curtis. And his 2014 release, “Ronin,” features Amanda Ruzza (track: 4), Mike Boone (tracks: 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9), Chris Beck (tracks: 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9), Dorota Piotrowska (track: 4), and Mamiko Watanabe.


Naples, Italy / Professor of Music, Composer, and Active Recording Artist

Italian jazz pianist and composer, Dino Massa graduated in Piano and Jazz music with 10/10. An active composer, he also teaches jazz piano at the Conservatories of Cosenza and Napoli. Mr. Massa has carried on concert activities since 1984. He has played nationally throughout Italy, as well as internationally in the USA, France, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, UK, Ireland, Hungary, Belgium, Greece, Latvija, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia — American Jazz Museum of Kansas CityJimmy Glass Jazz Festival Valencia (Spain), PragueJazz Festival, Università of Suceava and Casa de la Cultura of Radauti (Romania), Cascais jazz club live on Radio Antena2 (Portugal) are some of the venues he has played. Mr. Massa has released 10 albums as a leader and many others as a sideman. In 2010 one of his recordings was released in a jazz compilation album that included other jazz musicians such as Chet Baker and George Benson, among others.  He has edited a didactic section for the musical magazine “Basimedia Magazine” since 1998. Mr. Massa has been a member of the jazz orchestra of the Naples’ Conservatory, conducted by Bruno Tommaso and he taught at the international jazz workshop of Teano Jazz (Ce). He has published many jazz didactic methods. His commercial recordings and public concerts have been broadcasted by Italian national stations Raidue, Radiouno, Radiodue, Radiotre, and international stations 41 KSHB – NBC network (USA), Jazz & Bossa Radio of Portorico, and many others. Some of Mr. Massa’s compositions are being performed and recorded by musicians in the USA and France. His latest commercially released albums include: “Echoes of Europe,” recorded with some of the best musicians of Kansas City’s modern jazz scene and released by the American label ARC; and, “Suite pour le piano for Jazz quartet” for the Norwegian label Losen Records. Mr. Massa has collaborations with noteworthy artists such as John Abercrombie, Marcus Hampton, Stan Kessler, Louis Sclavis, Christopher Burnett, Tomasz Grzegorski, Sigurdur Flosason, Shule Jovovic, Kyron Bourke among many others.


Louisburg, Kansas / Emmy Award-winning Hollywood Writer and Producer

Steve Pepoon grew up in Paola, Kansas, and graduated from Kansas State University. He is an Emmy Award-winning Hollywood writer and producer, known for Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), The Simpsons (1989), and Get a Life (1990). He is also the co-creator of The Wild Thornberrys. Filmography: Writer – Silver Spoons (1 episode, 1986); ALF (14 episodes, 1987–1990); It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (1 episode, 1990); Get a Life (1990); Ferris Bueller (3 episodes, 1990); The Simpsons (1 episode, 1991); Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment (1991); The Jackie Thomas Show (1992); Roseanne (1 episode, 1994); Cleghorne! (1 episode, 1995); You Wish (1997); The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002); The Wild Thornberrys (2 episodes, 2001–2003). Producer – Roseanne (15 episodes, 1993–1994); Cleghorne! (1995); Teen Angel (1 episode, 1998); The PJs (3 episodes, 2000). Awards – 1991, won Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Animated Program’ for The Simpsons.


Schertz, Texas / Pastor, Paradise BOUND Christian Fellowship

Pastor Mike was raised in the St. James A.M.E. church of Paola, Kansas. He enjoyed going to Sunday school and participating in the Youth Choir and monthly Youth Day. It was during these Youth Days that he realized he loved to preach God’s word. Called at an early age, he would run from that calling for nearly thirty years before coming to a place he could run no more. Under the pastorate of Joshua Joubert, of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, he was licensed and ordained to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He continued to expand his knowledge of ministry under the tutelage of Pastor Rander Earl Draper, Sr. of the Maranatha Bible Church. It was under Pastor Draper’s training that Pastor Wilhoite would accept his calling to pastoral ministry and with his wife, the former Marie Miles, would found Paradise Bound Christian Fellowship. Pastor Wilhoite believes “It’s Never to Late to Get it Straight”, Luke 23:43 (our church’s theme scripture), and that the calling of this ministry is to preach the gospel message for the “perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry” 1 Thessalonians 4:12.


Kansas City / Professor Emeritus, Musician, and Active Recording Artist

A native of Osage City, Kansas, Freda Peterson Proctor began her musical studies at age 5 as a piano student, then added flute in the 5th grade. Her older sister started teaching her organ shortly after, and she became the organist for the Methodist Church at age 12. Freda received a Bachelor of Music with a double major in piano and flute performance from Wichita State University and a Master of Arts in piano from Eastern Illinois University.  She spent several years in the Chicago area, teaching flute at Wheaton College, piano at the College of DuPage, accompanying professionally, playing flute in a small symphony, and playing the organ at a large church.  Back in Kansas, she taught piano and organ at Manhattan Christian College, continuing education at K-State, and maintained a studio of private students before joining the faculty of Saint Mary College where she taught music theory, piano, and flute, and directed the community band.  She retired from the University of Saint Mary in 2015, after 27 years of service. Freda continues to be active as a performer, teacher, and church musician.  She especially enjoys accompanying and chamber music, having performed professionally, everywhere from local school competitions to Carnegie Recital Hall.  Before moving to the Kansas City area, she was the pianist with the Topeka Symphony. She currently is the Director of Music/Organist for the First Presbyterian Church of Leavenworth. Freda and her husband, Rev. Wally Proctor, live on a small acreage, where they enjoy spending time with their family, dogs and cats, and horses.


Kansas City / Guitarist, Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, and Grammy-winning Recording Artist

Kansas City native Will Matthews has been playing the guitar since age thirteen. In 1996 Matthews joined the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of former Basie band lead trombonist Grover Mitchell, to fill the coveted chair of the late legendary guitarist and composer, Freddie Green, who performed with the Orchestra for over fifty years. Matthews has played on many studio and live recordings with the Orchestra, including two “Grammy Winning” recordings, ‘Live at Manchester Guild’ in 1996, and ‘Count Plays Duke’ in 1998, as well as the “Grammy Nominated” recording titled ‘Swing Shift’ in 2000. Matthews has performed with a who’s who list of artists such as the late Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Johnny Mathis. The guitarist released his debut cd, Will Matthews “Solo” in November 2000, and his second cd project titled ‘Count On Swingin’ was released in 2009 featuring legendary Organist Mel Rhyne, from the original Wes Montgomery Trio.


Washington D.C. / Arts Executive, Educator, Recording Artist, Leader Emeritus of Army Blues Jazz Ensemble

Born in Hempstead, Texas, and raised in the Midwest by parents who loved jazz and delighted in Broadway musicals, music has always been a significant part of Dr. Walker’s life. After high school, he majored in music at St. Louis Community College, and it was in the college lab band that Dr. Walker was introduced to Big Band jazz. The lab bands at the time were playing swing charts from the Count Basie library with arrangements by Sammy Nestico, and Neal Hefty, and music from the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson libraries. A major career step came when becoming a US Army Bandsman. After initial music training at the Navy School of Music, his first assignment was to the 399th Army Band at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri as a saxophone and clarinet player. Upon returning to the Navy School of Music for advanced training, Dr. Walker was selected for a faculty position in the jazz band branch of the Rehearsal Division – teaching jazz ensembles, improvisation, and rehearsal techniques. As a member of that faculty concert and jazz ensembles, he performed with renowned artists such as Claud T. Smith, Clark Terry, Eddie Daniels, and Stan Mark. Later, Dr. Walker honed his musical and leadership skills with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Band in Naples, Italy. While there he led the “Big Band” jazz ensemble and played lead alto saxophone. As the only multi-national service band of its kind, the band included Army, Navy, and Air Force musicians from Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the United States performing throughout Southern Europe. Then, Sergeant First Class, Dr. Walker returned to the Navy School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia to become Chair and head of the jazz ensemble branch of the Rehearsal Division, responsible for teaching jazz ensembles, jazz improvisation, developing curriculum, as well as the supervision and instruction of personnel at all levels of training. A year later Dr. Walker would enter the Warrant Officer Bandmaster course and graduate to become commander of The Army Band of the Southwest (the 36th Army Band), at the Military Intelligence Center & Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Chief Warrant Officer Dr. Walker was then selected for the prestigious assignment as Associate Bandmaster of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and Director of The U.S. Army Blues jazz ensemble. The “Blues, under his leadership, performed acclaimed concerts for audiences in our nation’s capital and across the United States and Canada. Highlights of these concerts were performances with jazz icons “Louie” Belson, Clark Terry, Bill Watros, Arturo Sandoval, Don Menza, Billy Taylor, Stanley Turrentine, along with headliners Alabama, Gladys Night, The New York Voices, and Osie Davis. Under Dr. Walker’s leadership the “Blues” performed for and conducted educational music clinics including the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Walt Disney World’s 10th & 11th Collegiate Jazz Festivals, International Trumpet Guild, Greeley Jazz Festival, and numerous college and high school festivals and clinics. As Associate Bandmaster for The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Dr. Walker conducted and performed concerts and ceremonies for the United States President, Vice President, Department of Defense leadership, and other luminaries. Dr. Walker retired as Leader and Commander of the 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning” Band in Hawaii, leading, coordinating, and executing more than three hundred musical performances annually. He is now Chair of the Visual & Performing Arts Department at Christ Chapel Academy in Woodbridge, Virginia, and holds a PhD in Music Education from George Mason University. Dr. Walker is married to his childhood sweetheart Margaretti, married 50+ years with four children and many grandchildren. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from St. Leo University of Florida and a Master of Music Degree from George Mason University.


Minneapolis, Minnesota / Author, Advocate, and Governor’s Council Member

Bonnie Jean Smith is a National and International Speaker and Trainer for Person Centered Thinking and Planning. She has been a multicultural specialist, Parent Advocate and trainer for PACER Center for 20 years. She is a member of the MN Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, an evaluator for the MN State Council for Quality, and a member of the monitoring and Technical Review System team for the Fed. Administration on Developmental Disabilities. Bonnie Jean has also worked with high school students as a behavior specialist and as Early Childhood Educator and Director at an Early Learning Center. As the parent to 3, now, young adults with developmental disabilities, Bonnie Jean has used her parenting experiences and journey to help other parents by writing the books, “How Big is the Fly: Asking the Right Question? “and “Person Centered Planning; The Natural Rhythms of Life”.


Paola, Kansas / Community Advocate, and Active Mental Health Professional

Born and raised in Paola, Kansas, Kevin Smith was childhood friends with Christopher (Chris) Burnett and the entire Burnett family. In fact, their mothers were also childhood and subsequent lifelong friends. Mr. Smith accepted Jesus Christ as his Personal Lord and Savior at an early age. He attended the same Sunday School and church with Chris and the Burnett family. Mr. Smith’s mother was both Chris’ and Kevin’s Sunday School teacher. He also played sports while growing up and all throughout his high school years. Mr. Smith graduated from Ottawa University as a non-traditional aged college student in 1997 with a B.A. majoring in psychology. He has been a mental health professional for twenty-three years, married Mireya Tovar in 2002, and they reside in Paola. Mr. Smith has been on numerous city committees serving the City of Paola and the Paola Unified School District.  He is currently a board member of The Miami County Kansas United Way.


Lawrence, Kansas / Entrepreneur, Video Production, Duplication, and Post-Production

Gordon Brown founded Avalon Video of Lawrence, Kansas in 1991 as a professional video production, duplication house, and post-production company. Avalon Video offers comprehensive services that go from script to screen. Professional Services are most often associated with “television” productions. Events are staged, shot, edited and produced on DVD, broadcast or webcast. The number of cameras and editing requirements depends on the event, but Avalon Video is proud to have produced acts including Jeff Foxworthy, Chris Rock, Blues Traveler, and more. Avalon Video has produced television shows, documentaries, and movies. Avalon Video has produced live events with audiences ranging from a few to over 20,000 attendees. We offer video or data projection, closed-circuit networks, or simultaneous webcasting. Avalon Video is proud to use one of the quickest non-linear editors on the market. Mr. Brown has assembled a talented staff of experienced editors and graphic artists to assist clients’ production needs. Their editing suite has been designed with client comfort in mind. He is active in the community and regional charities and non-profit organizations.


Leavenworth, Kansas / Certified Instrument Repair Technician, Entrepreneur, and Flute Dealer

Judi Dietz completed her Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in music. She taught as a woodwind specialist in Ohio for five years. She has also performed professionally on bassoon and contrabassoon in the Akron-Canton Symphony and the St. Joseph Symphony. Ms. Dietz completed additional studies for the diploma in Repair Service from Western Iowa Tech (WIT). She later earned a rating as a Master Clinician from the National Association of Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT) and is a certified Straubinger pad technician. Ms. Dietz has been repairing instruments since 1981, providing her professional repair services to individuals from California to Broadway performers in New York. Her full-service repair shop in Leavenworth, Kansas includes a four-foot bed lathe, and a milling machine table, among other highly-specialized tools. She is especially proficient in crack pinning, tone hole, and tenon replacements, and customizing.


Kansas City Kansas Community College / Professor of Music and Active Recording Artist

A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Jim Mair was raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and graduated from Silver Heights Collegiate in 1984. Mair graduated from the University of Mary (Bismarck, North Dakota) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education (1988) and the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music with a Master of Arts degree in Music (1990). He did additional studies at the Banff Summer School of Fine Arts 1988 and at the Aspen Music Festival 1989. He has studied with Loran Eckroth, University of Mary, Bismarck, ND 1984–1988, Scott Prebys, University of Mary, Bismarck, ND 1984–1988, Tim Timmons, the University of Missouri at Kansas City 1988–1990, and Gary Foster and Michael Parkinson, the University of Missouri at Kansas City 1988–1990. Mair has served on the faculty at the College of Southern Idaho, the International Music Camp, and the Charlie Parker Academy of the Arts. In addition, he has served as a staff writer for the Saxophone Journal and since 1992 has served as an artist/ clinician for the Selmer Instrument Company. Mair has conducted the North Dakota, South Dakota (twice), and Idaho All-State Jazz Ensembles (twice) and the Kansas City All-District Jazz Band (six times). While teaching in Idaho from 1995 to 1999 his radio show “Table Down Front” was broadcast across the northwest on NPR affiliates. His performance credits include appearances at the 30th annual Havana, Cuba Jazz Festival, New York City JVC Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, IAJE Convention, JEN Convention, Carnegie Recital Hall, Birdland and Showman’s Cafe in New York City and the Duchin Room in Sun Valley, Idaho. Mair is a Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Music and Jazz Studies at Kansas City Kansas Community College. In December 2014, his college big band performed at the 30th annual Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba. He also serves as the Artistic Director/co-founder for The Kansas City Jazz Alliance, The Kansas City Youth Jazz Orchestras, The Kansas City Jazz Quintet, and is the producer of The Kansas City Jazz Summit which includes the annual Basically Basie Competition. From 2003 to 2010 he served as the Artistic Director and conductor for The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, a performance organization that he and his wife Mary co-founded. Jim is also one of the co-founders of the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. In 2017 he received the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance Alumni of the Year award while The Kansas City Jazz Alliance formed by Mair and his wife was recognized as an organization of Jazz Distinction at the 2017 Johnny Pacheco Latin Music and Jazz Festival by Lehman College in the Bronx, New York. Jim and Mary are the parents of Mandy and Jameson Mair.


Kansas City / Educator, Community Advocate, and Active Recording Artist

Toni Gates is a trained, accomplished, and respected Kansas City musician. She is well versed in a wide range of vocal stylings with a multitude of professional music experiences to her credit such as church soloist: recording artist for radio commercials; featured voice for various Hallmark projects (“Blessed Assurance” Mother’s Day Card, 2013 and four Keepsake Magic Series Ornaments – “Oh Happy Day” to be released October 2021, “Joyful, Joyful” 2018, “Go Tell It On the Mountain” 2012, “This Little Light of Mine” 2011); touring internationally as lead big band vocalist; locally as cabaret and show cast member (Quality Hill Playhouse, Musical Theater Heritage); fronting jazz combos; and choir member of traditional choral and vocal jazz ensembles. Ms. Gates has held previous teaching posts:  vocal music, music theory and music appreciation in Kansas City at The Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, the 18th & Vine History and Performing Arts Summer Academy, the Music Arts Institute, Metropolitan Community College – Penn Valley, and in Lawrence at The University of Kansas. Her musical skills have been enriched by performances in Florida, Puerto Rico, New York, the Caribbean, and London. Meeting talented individuals such as Barbara Cook, Clark Terry, Nancy Wilson, Christopher Burnett, Teri Wilder, and Clarence Smith has encouraged her to continue listening and growing to become a well-rounded musician. Toni has produced the One by One concert series featuring the Toni Gates Ensemble for over 10 years and successfully completed the following self-produced CD projects: “This Woman” 2016 – featuring 7 original compositions and 6 arrangements, “I’m Old Fashioned,” 2008 – featuring fresh takes on classic standards, “Outside the Lines” 2003 – featuring original compositions. Toni Gates, founder of Races United, is also the program manager of the R.E.A.L project. She holds a Masters in Music, University of Kansas and Bachelor’s in Music Education, Missouri State University.  She has over 20 years’ experience raising and managing over $40 million in federal, state and local grants (Synergy Services, Friendship House, De La Salle Education Center).


Kansas City / Music Educator and Active Recording Artist

Born in Iowa, grown in Missouri, and sprouting throughout the Midwest, Joel Gordon is a saxophonist and music educator on a journey to cultivate relationships with music and people.  As a musician and teacher, Joel strives to balance life on “both sides of the fence,” working in concert classical and jazz contemporary styles. He became a bandleader and performing musician at the age of nineteen.  With a group of high school and college friends from Kansas City, Mr. Gordon formed the Trouble Clefs: a big band that convened during summer and winter school breaks.  Over the course of three years and twenty-five concerts, the group evolved from entertaining at a backyard pool party to performing at the Future Stages Festival in Kansas City and the Trails West! Festival in St. Joseph, Missouri.  During their run, more than fifty different musicians performed with the Trouble Clefs. Experiencing the connections with band members, families, and the community born out of this venture, Joel was inspired to become a musician and teacher. As a classical saxophonist, Mr. Gordon regularly records and tours with {trés}, a piano trio consisting of two saxophones and piano. The group is diligent in bringing the baroque and classical era works into modern saxophone repertoire by composers such as Bach and Mendelssohn.  As well {trés} strives to represent Latin American composers such as Villa Lobos and Piazzolla in their programming.  With the trio, he performed at the 40th Annual International Saxophone Symposium in Washington D.C. and the inaugural American Single Reed Summit. Mr. Gordon has performed on university guest recitals and several local concert series programs.  He studied classical saxophone primarily with Randall Smith, José Zayas-Cabán, and additionally with Tim Timmons and Neil Ostercamp. As a jazz musician, Mr. Gordon recently recorded and released a full-length album with Kansas City-based jazz quintet, the Matt Cook Collective, entitled “Along Those Lines.”  As a part of the Collective, Joel has traveled throughout the Midwest.  While on tour, the Matt Cook Collective has put on educational clinics for over 1500 public school students.  Mr. Gordon leads his own “chordless” quartet, the Happy Habitat. The group has featured some of the top young saxophonists in the country including Stephen Martin and Adam Larson.  Involved with the Kansas City music scene, Mr. Gordon has performed at many prominent music venues including RecordBar, Green Lady Lounge, Soirèe Bistro, Knucklehead’s Saloon, and the Brick.  He studied jazz improvisation with Tim AuBuchon and Matt Otto.  Additional instructors include Bob Long and Neil Ostercamp.  Mr. Gordon was also admitted to, and attended, the 2014 David Liebman Saxophone Masterclass. Mr. Gordon is passionate about advancing music through education.  As a private studio teacher, his saxophone students have earned accolades both in the Missouri All-State Concert Band and the Missouri All-State Jazz Band.  His private students have also been accepted into and attended nationally-distinguished opportunities including the NAfME All-National Honor Concert Band, Interlochen Saxophone Institute, Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, and NYU’s Broadway Winds Summer Program. As well, Mr. Gordon continues to develop his studio jazz teaching resource, The (Young) Adventure’s Guide to Jazz Improvisation. As a director, he helped establish educational programs including the Northland Student Jam Session and Kansas City Area Youth Jazz.  In addition, Mr. Gordon has taught at programs including the Charlie Parker Celebration Bird Boot Camp and Kansas City Jazz Academy.  As a public school teacher, he served for three years as the Director of Bands at Platte City Middle School and an assisting teacher with marching bands, concert ensembles, and jazz groups at Platte County High School (PCR-3).  During his time at PCR-3, Mr. Gordon helped many ensembles earn division I ratings, first-place awards, and grand champion trophies at local and regional competitions. Mr. Gordon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music (2015) and a Master of Arts in Education of Music (2016) from Truman State University.  Professional affiliations include Kappa Delta Pi, the Missouri Association for Jazz Education, the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri Music Educators Association, Phi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha, and the National Association for Music Education.  Currently, Mr. Gordon is an Area Director of KLIFE, a nonprofit Christian parachurch ministry focused on programming for youth.  He lives in Kirksville, Missouri with his wonderful wife Megan, delightful daughter Ellie, and their two curious cats Izzy and Ollie.


Kansas City / Administrative Professional and Jazz Advocate

Karen Kirkland-Anderson is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. She received her education in the Kansas City Missouri Public School system graduating from Paseo High School in 1974 and attended the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Growing up, Karen was a student of classical music playing the piano, cello and French horn. She also played the piano and organ at church. Possessing a love for cooking and enjoying cooking for others she started a small catering business called K & K Catering. Karen gave 20 years of service to the American Jazz Museum as the Executive Administrative Assistant, helping to preserve and promote America’s true classical music through the visual and performing arts. She also served on the board of the CODA Jazz Fund, an organization created to help provide burial assistance to fallen Kansas City jazz artists. Karen is the mother of four, grandmother of five, and one on the way, Godmother and extended grandmother to many.


Kansas City / Woodwind Artist, Educator, and Active Recording Artist

“To whom much is given, much is required!” This quote is one of many that multi-instrumentalist Houston M. Smith tries to live by daily. Mr. Smith, a young entrepreneur, and musician has solidified that living this mantra affords seen and unseen radical blessings of every variety. At a mere four years old, Mr. Smith displayed a unique passion for the drums and other percussion instruments. He studied privately under percussion great, Mr. Leon A. Brady at Brady Music Studio for 10 years. At the age of 10, Mr. Smith indirectly discovered an unknown passion for a new instrument; switched his musical focus to the alto saxophone. Shortly after, he joined Kansas City Youth Jazz (KCYJ), a program designed to educate youth about ‘jazz’ through experience, exposure, and performance. Mr. Smith knew relocating, learning, and growing within a new environment would help to best discover his untapped potential. Unwaveringly, he applied to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and was accepted. Now a proud member of the Berklee College of Music, Class of 2019, Mr. Smith earned his Professional Music degree with concentrations in Woodwind Performance and Music Business. Today, he is inspired to create positive change through artistry, development, and creative rights advocacy using his experiences to make an indelible mark in today’s fast-paced music industry. Mr. Smith says, “Music is a crucial part of me; it is one of the mediums I use to best express myself. Without music, there is no complete Houston. Style or genre aside, music has the power to bring people together; it has a transcending power that can break down the barriers that often impede life’s pathway. My life’s mission is to unite people through the power of my music.” He adds, “Music is a great gift bestowed to me; I show my thanks through sharing it with others. My hope is to inspire and motivate others to find their purpose, just as I have found mine. Music is life.”


Paola, Kansas / Journalist, Publisher, and Entrepreneur 

Bill Hauldren was born and raised in Paola, Kansas, and has had the pleasure of calling Chris Burnett a friend for a half a century. Chris and Bill were members of the Paola High School Class of 1974, and although they lost touch with each other while Chris was honing his skills in the United States Army, Bill was one of the first people he reconnected with when his life’s journey brought him back to the Kansas City area. Bill, a third-generation Kansas Newspaperman, was editor of the award-winning Paola High School Reporter, which also found Chris on the staff. After graduation, Bill went to Fort Scott Community College on a basketball scholarship. During his stay at FSCC, he served two years as editor of the “Greyhound Express,” the student newspaper. After junior college, Bill attended Kansas State University, writing for the K-State Collegian and earning a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. He spent ten years working for small weekly newspapers near his boyhood home, before returning to Paola, where he and his wife Lisa (also a PHS ’74 grad) bought into a commercial printing operation. An accomplished photographer, Bill expanded his multi-media experience to audio and video production and he and Lisa formed the company Memory Productions which featured portrait photography and video production. Later the couple grouped all their enterprises under the corporate name of Hauldren Productions. Bill has always been interested in helping and mentoring youth. He and Lisa formed a not for profit internship program which worked with Hauldren Productions to mentor middle school and high school students. In addition, Bill has served as Audio/Visual and Photography Mentor for FIRST Team 1108 Panther Robotics for many years. He also mentors middle school students at Holy Trinity Catholic School in STEM-related fields. Bill and Lisa have three married daughters, with five granddaughters. All three girls are gifted musically, playing Clarinet, Flute, and Saxophone. Two of the girls have had the privilege of either playing with or being taught by Chris Burnett.


Leavenworth, Kansas / Entrepreneur, Businessman, and Community Arts Advocate

The Tune Shop, Inc. is owned by Eric Rathburn and Abigail Ahrens, and is managed by Eric and his friendly staff of Music Professionals.  Current ownership purchased the fifty year old music store from Robert and Shirley Cowan (then known as Toon Shop) in 2003.  Bob and Shirley enjoyed thirty years of business in the Leavenworth and Atchison County area, and retired from the Music Store Business to become Semi-retired each teaching music lessons at The Tune Shop two days each week. The Tune Shop. Inc. boasts a stable of 22 Teachers who teach 450 students, with nine lesson studios, a large selection of band and combo instruments, as well as a complete repair facility.  If you need an instrument of any kind, repair services, insurance evaluations, music lessons, or sheet music, The Tune Shop, Inc. is the place to come in Leavenworth County. The Tune Shop, Inc., located in Leavenworth, is one of the last “Full Line” music stores in the Kansas City Metro Area.  


New York City / Woodwind Artist, Educator and Active Recording Artist

Saxophonist, Bandleader, Composer, and Arranger Morgan Faw has grown up living around the United States, but grew up as a musician in Kansas City and is now studying Saxophone Performance formally at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Mr. Faw’s passion for music had been present since he was very little, but his passion for the arts developed after moving to Kansas City, Missouri in 2012. It was not his family who taught him music, but rather an entire community of mentors, teachers, and local artists who surrounded and supported his learning of not just how to play the saxophone but also taught him the history and the importance of Kansas City jazz that has helped Mr. Faw develop into the musician he is today. By the age of 15, he had moved in pursuance of playing professionally and playing in multiple community bands across the Kansas City jazz scene. He was also hired as a marketing intern for the American Jazz Museum located in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District of Kansas City where he had multiple opportunities to connect with and perform opening acts for jazz legends and heroes such as Kevin Mahogany, Kim Waters, The Bad Plus + Joshua Redman, Ida McBeth, Benny Green, The McFadden Brothers, Ravi Coltrane, and many others over the next year and a half. It was his excellent work with the American Jazz Museum and continuing progress in his musical studies when he was 16 that led to the opportunity to study privately with saxophonist Bobby Watson. Mr. Faw has been a featured performer for the annual Charlie Parker Celebration Festival, The Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival, and has performed all across the Kansas City area. He has also formed his own groups, performing locally, and nationally at the Jazz Educators Network Conference in New Orleans and at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2017. Mr. Faw has not only been an aspiring musician. He also has worked with organizations designed to enrich the Kansas City jazz scene for current and younger audiences. Between 2017 and 2018, Mr. Faw worked to help inspire a new generation of musicians through community work and spoken word events. At the American Jazz Museum, he played a critical role in the creation of the blueprint for their youth jazz program, officially known as the Kansas City Jazz Academy, which now has over 35 students annually. In his first year at Berklee College of Music, Mr. Faw had the privilege to perform, write for and record an album with drummer Ralph Peterson and his Generation Next Bigband (the direct successor band to the Jazz Messenger Big Band from the 1980s). The album “LISTEN UP!” is now available on all streaming services. The band has performed as a headliner for the DC Jazz Festival, as well as Dizzy’s Club in NYC (2019). Now in his second year at Berklee, Mr. Faw has an intense focus on performing with the GenNext Bigband as well as composing for his newly formed quintet, “The Global Rhythm Machine” (2019). Mr. Faw hopes that this collective of musicians can someday create a completely new sound for future listeners and for the future of music.


Augusta, Georgia / Army Music Emeritus, Educator, and Yamaha Saxophone Artist

Wayne Hoey is an official Yamaha Artist and hails from Lynn, Massachusetts. He enjoys life as an active performer and educator. Beginning his professional career in the United States Army as a saxophonist included living at many faraway places, both foreign and domestic, while also allowing him the opportunity to represent the service and nation in a musical capacity. Mr. Hoey’s active-duty military assignments included performing with the bands at Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; and, Fort Gordon, Georgia, as well as three assignment tours with the Army Bands headquartered in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). After completing a full military career, Mr. Hoey was awarded a full scholarship to Colorado State University-Pueblo where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education. That opportunity opened the door to his next career as Director of Bands at Jenkins Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Jenkins Jazz Ensemble consistently earned superior ratings at adjudicated jazz festivals during his tenure. Mr. Hoey has also subsequently earned a Masters Degree in Music Education from Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is presently the Middle School Jazz Band director at Augusta University in Georgia where the Jazz Studies program faculty includes trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and flutist Rob Foster.


Kansas City / Musician, Barry White and Active Recording Artist

Kansas City native, and multi-instrumentalist, Ervin Brown got a pleasant surprise one evening while still in his early twenties when performing at a local nightclub—the attention of famous Jazz guitarist and songwriter, George Benson. The legendary artist was on tour and sat in to play with Mr. Brown’s group at the time. The two artists ultimately became friends and Mr. Benson also took the time to share guitar concepts as a mentor. Mr. Brown noted, “Man, how lucky was I to begin a friendship with George Benson that still exists today.” Later in his career, Mr. Brown ultimately experienced great successes. He eventually developed a strong feel for the blues due to the privilege of playing on a nightly basis with another Jazz great, Lou Rawls. Mr. Brown eventually began touring and recording with Barry White, playing the lead guitar book. That experience also resulted in his developing a personal and musical friendship with Barry White that further inspired Mr. Brown to turn his attention and talent to become a songwriter in his own right. He played the lead guitar and wrote the chord changes for the recording “Love You, Ooh It’s True I Do” found on the Barry White album, “My Musical Bouquet.” Mr. Brown also wrote the chord changes to the Barry White recording, “September When I First Met You,” found on Barry White’s album “THE MAN.” These experiences helped fuel the fire of Mr. Brown’s love of the drums, bass, and piano which still burns today.

NOTE: “Emeritus and a Founding Advisory Council Board Member” status indicates that this board member is no longer a currently active participant in our programs and initiatives, but their contributions remain vital to our success.

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