2017 Featured Bandleaders and All-Star Artists:
Michael Gamble & The Vanguard Serenaders (Asheville, NC)
Michael Gamble and The Vanguard Serenaders are an aggressively faithful presentation of tightly-arranged, riff-dominated swinging small-group created for a swing dancing public. Careful transcriptions and subtle adaptations of Goodman/Christian Sextet dominate the repertoire, with thoughtful forays into the combo work of Ellington, Basie, as well as some of the later 40’s material put down by Eldridge, especially his time with Artie Shaw. Bandleader Michael Gamble’s 15+ years in the international swing scene inform every aspect of the band’s repertoire and taste.
Kris Tokarski Quintet (New Orleans)
Two of the most in demand musicians in New Orleans backed by an all-star rhythm section and playing small-band Jazz, inspired by the music of Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Charlie Christian, Earl Hines, Jess Stacy and other icons of Swing.
Kris Tokarski is comfortable in any piano style from Classic Ragtime to Modern Jazz. He frequently appears at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival and is the music director for the Bombay Club in New Orleans.
The Joe Smith Orchestra Featuring the All-Stars (Denver, CO)
Joe Smith, a Denver based trumpet player and bandleader, started playing music at the age of four when his grandmother introduced him to the blind pianist who lived behind her. At age five Joe began taking formal piano lessons. To keep him inspired and practicing his grandmother used to pay him ten cents an hour to practice after school. At the age of ten Joe picked up the trumpet and never looked back.
Currently Joe is the bandleader for three bands in the Denver area: Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles, Joe Smith & The Mile High Club, and The Joe Smith Orchestra. The Spicy Pickles is a nationally touring six piece band that is spreading their love for vintage jazz and pushing to bring this American art form to a new generation of listeners. They are best known for their musical relationship with swing dancers, especially those in the lindy hop and balboa community. The Mile High Club is a quartet that performs in the Denver area playing a mix of traditional New Orleans jazz and early swing.
Joe’s freelance trumpet experience has taken him across the United States and includes appearances with the Graystone Monarchs, the Jazz Band Ballers at the famous Spotted Cat in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Craig Gildner Big Band (Washington, DC), Falty & The Defects (Seattle, WA), Denver Philharmonic Orchestra (Denver, CO), Chico Chico (Austin, TX), Waller Creek Vipers (Austin, TX), and more.
Joe will be leading a 13-piece big band at the Denver Vintage Jazz Festival on Saturday night. This big band will feature all of the bandleaders for the Denver Vintage Jazz Festival. The Joe Smith Orchestra is a big band that plays music of the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s in the style of Count Basie, Artie Shaw, and Duke Ellington.
Joe Smith and The Spicy Pickles (Denver, CO)
Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles Jazz Band is a Denver-based vintage jazz band devoted to revitalizing swing music and dance. This small group style swing band packs a punch of power, personality, and wit into each show, intriguing generations new and old with the beloved charm of big band swing from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. The Pickles bring it all – high energy, quality musicianship, and an authentic big band sound and look that celebrates the unique American spirit of swing. The band fuses musical influences from the sounds of Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw with the showmanship of Louis Armstrong, Lucky Millinder, and Jimmy Lunceford. With a smart respect for the preservation of vintage jazz music and entertainment, the Pickles are constantly adding new and original tunes to their repertoire. They bring a unique visual flair to each performance with gimmicks, tricks, horn movements, and hat work inspired to captivate audiences all night long.
Trumpet player and vocalist, Joe Smith, started the band in January of 2013 to give dancers something to swing out to. Since the bands’ inception, the Pickles have held a special place in their heart for the swing dance community. The band travels from coast to coast playing their spicy tunes at swing dance events both large and small, inspiring dancers to fall in love with jazz over and over again. The group is notorious for their spot on arrangements and electrifying energy during competitions. The band is known to regularly keep dancers on their feet truckin’ until 4 in the morning.
Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars (Denver, CO)
The Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars are now in their seventh year of existence. The students are from ten various Denver metropolitan area high schools. The All-Stars perform during breaks of the professional bands at each Denver Jazz Club monthly session. A second sponsor of the band is Kolacny Music Store.
The Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars have been featured with numerous professional musicians including: Your Father’s Mustache Band, the Queen City Jazz Band, the Poudre River Irregulars, the 101st Army Colorado Dixieland Jazz Band, the Summit Hot Seven, Big Mama Sue Quartet, Dr.
Bach & the Jazz Practitioners, the Blue Street Jazz Band, the Au Brothers Jazz Band, the Bob Schulz Frisco Jazz Band, Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, Eddie Erickson, Randy Sandke, Eddie Metz Jr, Jim Fryer, Bria Skonberg, Dennis Lichtman, the Crescent City Katz, the Cocuzzi Courtet, and Bob Draga.
The band performs each year at the Summit, Evergreen, and Sacramento Jazz Festivals. In 2011, they performed in the Montreaux, Switzerland International Jazz Festival, Montreux Meets Brienz Jazz Festival, and in Interlaken Concert Hall. The DJC Youth All-Stars went on to tour to New Orleans in 2012. In 2013, they performed in the Montreux; Assisi, Italy; and Umbria, Italy Jazz Festivals. In July, 2014, the band performed on a concert tour to New York City. Venues included: the Iguana Mexican Restaurant & Dance Lounge, Central Park, Washington Square (Greenwich Village), the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and the Garage Restaurant and Cafe. The DJC Youth All-Stars performed at the July, 2015 Montreux, Montreux Meets Brienz Jazz Festival, and the Expo in Citta Festival (Milan, Italy). The band recently performed in the 2016 Sacramento Music Festival. They will be performing on a concert tour to New Orleans in August, 2016, including appearances at Preservation Hall, on the Steamboat Natchez, at Fritzel’s European Jazz Club, on the Creole River Queen, and at the Spotted Cat Jazz Club.
2015-16 Band Personnel
Dr. Ed Cannava, Director Ellington Jenkins, Clarinet/Vocals, Sophomore
Alex Preston, Tenor Sax, Senior Brent Ingle, Trumpet/Vocals, Senior
Gabby Aragon, Trombone/Vocals, Senior Mika Smith, Banjo/Vocals, Junior
Ben Thompson, Piano/Vocals, Senior Ben Husted, Bass, Freshman
Mike Winter, Drums, Junior
Additional 2016-17 Band Personnel Joining Us for This Performance
Spencer Hauck, Tenor Sax, Sophomore
Jon Uchida, Trumpet, Sophomore
Braeden Werdel, Trombone, Junior
Jojo Rita, Piano, Sophomore
Jason Jzurak (New Orleans) – Bass
Jason was raised in a musical household with all forms of music surrounding him. His father, a well-known traditional jazz trombonist, instilled in Jason a love for the early styles of American music. A multi-instrumentalist and composer, Jason has traveled the world playing everything from reggae to ragtime, and his compositions have been heard on PBS, NPR, and radio stations worldwide. In 2007, his love of early jazz brought him to New Orleans where he has quickly become a popular musician on the Frenchman Street music scene and in traditional jazz clubs around the city.
Josh Duffee (Davenport, IA) – Drums
Born in Moline, Illinois, and now residing across the river in Davenport, Iowa, Josh Duffee is regarded as one of the world’s greatest 1920’s style percussionists. He has performed at numerous jazz festivals and concerts all around the world, including England in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, and Australia in 2001, 2003, 2011 and 2013.
Josh is the leader of many groups in the Quad City area, including the following: Josh Duffee & His Graystone Monarchs (20’s and 30’s), Josh Duffee & His Orchestra (20’s-40’s), The Josh Duffee Jazz Quartet (30’s and 40’s), and the Soon-To-Be Named Synth-Pop Band. He is also a sideman in many other groups, and is called to perform with groups all over the country in almost every music style. He also leads his Jazz Quartet at the Hotel Blackhawk in downtown Davenport every Sunday morning for their acclaimed jazz brunch.
Josh’s groups have received awards and recognition for their hard work and passion for performing music from the 1920’s. They received the “Jean Goldkette Award of Excellence” from Alann Krivor, grand-nephew and President of the Jean Goldkette Foundation, in 2002. They also received a special recognition award from the board of directors at the Detroit International Jazz Festival for honoring the music and tradition of the Jean Goldkette Orchestra in 2011. He was also asked by the family of Louie Bellson to play taps at Louie’s private family burial in Moline in 2009, and a solo at his headstone dedication in May of 2010.
Josh’s jazz drumming influences are as follows: Chauncey Morehouse, Louie Bellson, Gene Krupa, Zutty Singleton, Baby Dodds, Vic Berton, Sonny Greer, Teddy Brown, Stan King, Kaiser Marshall, Paul Barbarin, Ray Bauduc, Chick Webb, Ben Pollack, Ray McKinley, and countless others!
James Isaac (Kansas City) – Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone
James Isaac is a professional saxophone player and Kansas City native. He performs regularly with several groups including: The People’s Liberation Big Band, which plays free big band jazz; Multiphonic, a dance band; Killer Strayhorn, Kansas City’s premiere jazz quintet; AfterGroove, a contemporary jazz group; and frequently is called to play in area orchestras.
Starting his musical education on flute, then piano, the opening notes of the Pink Panther theme introduced James to the saxophone, and it was love at first listen. From 6th grade onward, playing sax came naturally to him. He was first-chair all-state orchestra in high school, and was attracted to the jazz band for the opportunity to improvise. Before he was done with high school, he picked up bassoon. He learned clarinet as an undergrad and oboe as a grad student, giving him a working knowledge of all the woodwinds.
Through college, playing professionally was James’s main priority. Saxophonist and teacher Bill Caldwell inspired James early on with his musical example of a complete natural, impeccable talent. James led chamber ensembles at Johnson County Community College before Joining the UCM faculty in 2009. Mr. Isaac continues to give private lessons on sax and piano and now balances his time equally between teaching and performing. In addition to saxophone courses, he teaches Jazz Improvisation and the Jazz Rock Combo. He believes one of the strengths of the program is that they not only train future music teachers but also emphasize practical skills for musicians in the professional world.
Mr. Isaac explores not just the musical possibilities but the professional ones as well. And his openness and networking have led to some interesting and rewarding opportunities including touring with a circus in Puerto Rico in the late 90s, recording in Jimi Hendrix’s former studio in New York, being called to perform in the orchestra for the touring company of West Side Story, playing an alternative version of The Nutcracker with the People’s Liberation Big Band around the holidays, and playing with Quixotic, a Kansas City aerial arts, music, and dance company. Mr. Isaac regularly tours with Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles, and has also played as a member of the Graystone Monarchs.
Kris Tokarski (New Orleans) – Piano
Kris Tokarski was born and raised just outside of New York City, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Growing up in a Hungarian – American household, he was raised on classical music and Hungarian folk music.
Kris attended and completed his bachelor’s degree at Berkeley College of Music in Boston, MA. While there, he would make regular pilgrimages back to New York to study with bebop master, Barry Harris.
In 2011, Tokarski moved to New Orleans to complete a master’s degree at the University of New Orleans. Shortly after moving to the “Cradle of Jazz” he embraced the early piano traditions of the city as well as those of the northeast where he grew up. A keen interest in the music of Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, and Teddy Wilson; combined with his bebop roots allowed Tokarski to develop an all-encompassing voice of his own, deeply rooted in the jazz piano tradition.
Andrew Vogt (Fort Collins) – Clarinet and Saxophones
Andrew Vogt started playing Saxophone in elementary school in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since then he has added clarinet and flute to his arsenal and has performed professionally at well over 5,000 events. He earned a degree in music from the University of Nebraska and is now a freelance musician/music educator in Fort Collins, Colorado. In the late 1990’s Andrew was one of the top musicians competing for the Cognac Hennessy Jazz Challenge. He then spent three years sailing the seas on cruise ships performing every night for hundreds of guests. At the turn of the new millennium he moved his horns and himself to the beautiful land of Colorado. Andrew specializes in high energy, exciting jazz but also performs in a variety of different funk, soul and R&B bands. He can be seen regularly playing with Your Father’s Moustache Band, Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles, and other swing groups in the Front Range area.