Alex Norris grew up in Columbia, Md. where he began studying music at the age of 9. After graduating high school he received a scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory of Music to study trumpet. He graduated from the Conservatory in 1990. In 1992, Norris moved to New York City to pursue a career as a jazz trumpeter.. Here, he found work with the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra, and Maria Schneider's Band. From 1994-1998, Norris was a member of Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead, becoming musical director in 1998; the final year of Carter's life. Norris has also performed and recorded extensively in the bands of Lonnie Plaxico, Jason Lindner, and with Ralph Irizarry's Timbalaye. Norris has worked with many noted jazz musicians such as Slide Hampton, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Carl Allen, John Patitucci, Mulgrew Miller, and Brian Blade. Norris is very active in Afro-Cuban jazz, as well, having worked with Andy and Jerry González, Manny Oquendo, Paquito D’Rivera, and Chico O’Farril. In 1995, Norris received a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He has served on the music faculties at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, Towson University, and the City College of New York. In 2007, Norris received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. From 2005-2008, Norris was also a teacher at the University of Miami. Residing in New York City, Norris performs all over the world with his own jazz group and with the Ron Carter's Great Big Band, the Mingus Big Band, Alan Ferber's Big Band, Kyle Eastwood, Helen Sung, Miguel Zenon, Amina Figarova, and many other jazz and Latin jazz artists. He performs regularly at top New York Jazz Clubs such as the Jazz Standard, Smalls, Smoke, Birdland, and the Blue Note. He is also a member of the Jazz Studies Faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.
Alex Norris has one CD released on the Fresh Sounds/New Talent Label entitled “Alex Norris Quintet- A New Beginning". His most recent recording, “Alex Norris Organ Quartet- Extension Deadline' , will be released in February on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records. As a sideman, Alex has recorded on over 80 CD's; several of them for labels such as Blue Note, Verve, Impulse, Steeplechase, and Sunnyside. Alex has several of his Latin jazz compositions published by 3-2 Music in Fresno, CA. Additionally, he has a video masterclass available on www.mymusicmasterclass.com.
Les Pack is a highly demanded and respected guitarist, private instructor, clinician, and composer of both jazz and concert music. He earned his B.A. in Music at Henderson State University and a masters degree in conducting from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Additionally, he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied jazz guitar. He is part owner of the music publishing company Twin Towers Music Publications along with his friend and colleague Brian Rhodes. Twin Towers specializes in concert band literature for young bands and ensembles but also offers material in various styles and difficulty. Les is a very accomplished composer, with his most recently released work being on the album "Haunted America Suite". In the jazz world, Les Pack is in high demand as a guitarist for both combo and big band settings. He is currently the instructor for all music theory classes offered at UAM as well as improvisation and private guitar.
Mike Williams is currently the lead trumpet player for the Count Basie Orchestra. He earned his degree of Bachelor of Music Education at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Beginning in 1983, Williams attended the University of North Texas where he held the lead trumpet position in the One O'Clock Lab Band. After three years at UNT, he went on the road with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Within two months, he was asked to be the full time lead trumpet player for the Count Basie Orchestra. He has been with them ever since. With the Basie Band, he has recorded over 15 CD's, three of which were Grammy winners. He has performed in all 50 states and over 40 countries as well as performed for the King of Thailand, presidential inaugurations, and also in jazz festivals in several countries. He has also been broadcast in numerous live television and radio shows across the world. When off the road, Mike teaches privately and performs as guest soloist and clinician with universities and high schools across the nation. He teaches at jazz camps and free lances in the Detroit area and has traveled with the Steve Lippia Big Band, "Simply Sinatra" for several weeks at a time. He is heard playing lead with the Steve Wiest Big Band on "Excalibur" through the Arabesque label. He also plays lead trumpet with the Charles Tolliver Big Band and has been the lead player with Christian McBride's Big Band "A Tribute to Marvin Gaye." For many years, Mike has made appearances as the lead trumpet and featured soloist with the Shreveport based big band "Super Sound" directed by his good friend and fellow trumpet player Bill Causey.
Paul Stivitts has been performing, recording, teaching, and composing music for more than 35 years. He began his touring career as a member of the World Champion Santa Clara Vanguard drum and bugle corps, and went on to receive a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas, and recently completed a masters degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. His exciting musical career has taken him to 48 states, 15 European Nations, Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Nicaragua, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, and Russia. In this boundless journey around the globe, his musical diversity has led to touring, recording, and sharing the stage with Maynard Ferguson, Lauryn Hill, Diana Krall, Dispatch and many others.
Steve Holley a Grammy nominated music educator, served as the Producer for the Commercial Music Program at the Kent Denver School outside Denver, CO. During his tenure, the R&B, soul, salsa, and jazz bands in the CMP were recognized by DownBeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards over a dozen times, performed hundreds of gigs throughout the US, and performed abroad at the Festival del Tambor, Montreux Jazz, and Porretta Soul Festivals in Cuba, Switzerland, Italy, respectively. Steve holds a BM in Jazz/Classical Bass performance, a MM in Jazz/Classical Bass performance, and a MM in Musicology from the University of Memphis. In addition to being an educator, arranger, performer, and musical entrepreneur, Steve is a sought after clinician with performances and master classes given at the Jazz Education Network, Association for Popular Music Education, and several state MEA conferences. More recently, Steve has written several articles for In Tune Monthly, Teaching Music, multiple blogs and newsletters for NAfME and JEN, and several state MEA journals. He's available for consulting, clinics, recording sessions, arranging, master classes, live gigs, articles, guest directing, conference presentations, keynotes, etc. https://steveholleymusic.com/home
Pete BarenBregge was born in Pittsburgh, PA. Growing up, the family lived in a number of locations but ended up in Wilmington, Delaware. Pete became hooked into music with the classic story of a dynamic band director and mentor, Hal Schiff, who inspired a student in whom he heard special musical talent. In high school, Pete really got in to music and achieved success on the tenor and alto saxophones, flute and clarinet and proceeded to win numerous awards at high school jazz festivals. Among the awards was a scholarship to the famed Stan Kenton Jazz Camp which became fertile ground for many jazz artists. Music was clearly the path of choice. He majored in music and graduated from West Chester University with a B.S. in music education and went on to teach public school instrumental music in Wilmington, all the while constantly playing and teaching jazz and making a name for himself in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area. Although he enjoyed teaching, the opportunity to join one of finest big bands in the world, the USAF Airmen of Note arrived in 1979. After a successful audition, he enlisted in the USAF, and moved to the Washington, D.C. area where the band is stationed. He was finally a full-time professional musician. With a brilliant career in the United States Air Force Band as featured soloist on lead tenor saxophone in the Airmen of Note, he rose rapidly through the system and was appointed musical director and NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) of this elite group. As director, he quickly earned the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Upon retirement from the USAF after 20 years, Pete accepted a full-time position with Warner Bros. Publications and the instrumental jazz editor, and then when Alfred Publishing Co acquired WBP, he was hired by Alfred in the same position as editor for instrumental jazz products. www.petebarenbregge.com
Jason Smith a native of Calhoun, Louisiana, brings a dynamic passion to the trumpet and to music education. Mr. Smith distinguished himself as a professional trumpet player with the United States Air Force Band. A valued asset to the military and the band career field for over ten years, Mr. Smith traveled to over 25 states and 5 international countries, touring as a lead trumpet player and soloist for various concert, rock and big bands. Mr. Jason Smith’s extensive knowledge in the big band genre led to his appointment as the musical director for the USAF Band of the West’s “Dimensions in Blue”. Under his musical leadership, Mr. Smith’s programming and drive towards a fresh, contemporary sound enhanced the ensemble’s musical product to become comparable to the nation’s finest big bands. Mr. Smith has also become a requested clinician among many high school and college level big bands, and has taught privately through the Northside School District in San Antonio, Texas.Mr. Smith has performed with the renowned United States Air Force Band “Airmen of Note”, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Dave Stall, Eddie Daniels, Eric Ewazen, Dwayne O’ Brien, The Miracles, The Food Network, The International Trumpet Guild, The Dayton Jazz Orchestra, The San Antonio Jazz Orchestra, and The Vintage 15. Mr. Smith’s musical talents can be heard on numerous musical recordings ranging from Big Band, Classical and Christian Worship. Mr. Smith holds a BA in Jazz Studies and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from The University of Arkansas at Monticello. Currently Mr. Smith teaches trumpet and is the director of the prestigious Jazz One at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Harry Watters travels nationally and internationally as a Jupiter Artist. His numerous Summit Records releases include the popular Love Songs and the three critically acclaimed Brothers discs with trumpeter Ken Watters. After graduation from the University of North Texas, Harry spent four years touring and recording with the renowned Dukes of Dixieland. While working at night on Bourbon Street, a sleep-deprived Watters attended the University of New Orleans by day, serving as the graduate assistant to Professor Ellis Marsalis. Watters has performed with Doc Severinsen, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Erich Kunzel, Kevin Mahogany, Wycliffe Gordon, Lou Rawls, Maureen McGovern, Bill Watrous, Carl Fontana, Jiggs Whiggam, James Moody, Peter Erskine, Conrad Herwig, John Fedchock and the Boston Brass. In addition, Harry has appeared as a featured soloist with the Syracuse Symphony, the Baton Rouge Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Tulsa Pops, the West Virginia Symphony, the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band, the Janacek Philharmonic, the Moldovan Festival Orchestra and the U.S. Army Orchestra. Harry is constantly in demand as a Jupiter Artist and Clinician. He has presented his "Power Practicing" seminar at the American Band College, the Jazz Education Network National Conference, the Association of Concert Bands' National Convention, the University of North Texas, New Mexico State University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Tennessee, East Carolina State University, Texas Christian University, Baker University, the University of Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of New Orleans, Louisiana State University, the University of Montana, Utah State University, Kent State University and in high schools throughout the United States. Harry is married to violist and keyboardist Holly Watters of the U.S. Army Strings. They reside in Alexandria, Virginia with their three children Harry V, Katherine the 1st & Lady Caroline.
David Kane, born in 1955 in Glasgow, Scotland, has been a fixture on the US music scene since 1975 both as a pianist and composer. He is equally comfortable in Jazz and Classical settings. He has performed with notable Jazz Artists such as Woody Shaw, Steve Kujala, Dave Liebman and Dizzy Gillespie. He has also performed extensively with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony and the Twentieth Century Consort. He is active as a composer of both Classical Music and Film Music with hundreds of Film and TV scores to his name. Since 2006 he has been writing for Cadence Magazine. He currently teaches both private lessons as well as teaching the Jazz Masters program at the University of Arkansas He currently lives in the DC area with his wife Cynthia and their two daughters, Celeste and Ariel.