BILL A. JONES, VOCALIST:
As a singer, Bill has opened for Steve Tyrell, and had the honor of opening for Tony Bennett at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital 50th Anniversary Gala at The Beverly Hilton with The Big Band Alumni. In the past, Bill toured with The Glenn Miller Orchestra. Bill swings the great standards in the tradition of Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble` & others, typically with the backing of a full Big Band.
BONNIE BOWDEN, VOCALIST:
Bonnie began her career in Texas before joining the Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’77 and has since then appeared on stage and in concert throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and South America. Her TV credits include appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Steve Lawrence & Edie Gorme Special,and throughout the world including Germany, Brazil, Japan. Her vocal solos are featured on 17 albums.
HARRY SMALLENBURG, TROMBONE:
Harry, who is a Southern California native, has been playing trombone since the age of 8. Over the course of his career, he has played, recorded, and/or toured with numerous bands including the Kim Richmond Jazz Orchestra, and Roger Neuman Rather Large Big Band. He also plays tuba, drums, and vibes. He has three CDs of his own—“Just What I Was Thinking,” “Morphology,” and “Live at the Balzac” — all of which are available at CD Baby. He said he digs the camaraderie in the band and in the audience at Las Hadas on Tuesday mornings. We are thrilled to have him with us.
ROY WIEGAND, TROMBONE:
Roy has played with several big bands throughout his career: Stan Kenton – Woody Herman – Xavier Cugat – Urbie Green – Kai Winding – the Bands at the Copacabana and Plaza Hotel in New York – the Johnny Haig Big Hotel Band in Las Vegas – Ken Poston Jazz Festivals, L.A., since 1995 – Steven Harris concerts since 2001 – Tours throughout U.S. with the “Stan Kenton Alumni Orchestra”, since 1993.
Roy can be seen and heard in many films. Just to name a few; JFK, My Fellow Americans, Dead Again, Lush Life, Coneheads, School Ties, Elizabethtown, For The Boys, Presidio, Naked Gun 33 1/3, and Police Academy VI. Some television film credits include: Sinatra mini series, Star Trek-The Next Phase, T.V. Movie of the Week: Seduced By Madness, and I Desire. Roy has recorded with over 100 artists and now has four releases as a bandleader.
Between 1968 and 1974 in Miami, Florida, Roy Wiegand played in the Jacki Gleason Show, as well as 6 annual Miss America and Miss Universe Shows. In addition, he had a steady 6 night a week job at the Americana Hotel. From 1974 to 1978 in his hometown, New Orleans, Louisiana, he played at the Fairmont Hotel Show Orchestra, with Band Leader, Dick Stabile, where his very close friend, Frank Trapani, was the lead trumpet player. In between 1978 and 1982, Roy worked in Las Vegas, Nevada in the Johnny Haig’s Great Relief Band. In 1982, he returned back to Los Angeles, where he now resides.
SAM GLENN, CLARINET:
Sam has played with the Billy Butterfield Band, the Bob Cross Orchestra and the Red Norvo Quintet. Sam has played for many vocalists and entertainers over the years including Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Robert Goulet, Eartha Kitt, Gordon and Sheila McRae, Sophie Tucker, Liberace, Roger Williams, Carmen Cavallero, and many others.
BOB GALEOTTI, TROMBONE:
Another musician who began at the age of nine, but became a high school art teacher before turning to music as his profession. He made a name for himself as a side man with Jimmy Dorsey, Billy May, Jan Savitt, Spike Jones, and Harry James. He played with bands assembled to back several famous singers including Nancy Wilson, Jack Jones, Al Martino, the Platters, and more. He toured Brazil with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and didn’t sleep a wink the entire time they were there.
JACK REDMOND, TROMBONE:
Jack is another musician who began his studies at the age of nine, and now occupies the first chair in the trombone section. He was a long-time player with the Les Brown Band of Renown including VietNam War years touring with Bob Hope. He recalls playing for 20 to 35,000 men at what was known as Freedom Hill where GIs would sit all night in the rain waiting for some entertainment from back home. Once they were helicoptered to a remote location to entertain a search and destroy mission as they emerged from the jungle. In addition to his years with Les Brown, Jack has accompanied major entertainers such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Ann-Margret.
CURT SLETTEN, TRUMPET:
Curt has played with such big bands as Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Les Brown, Harry James, Alvino Ray and with the King Sisters. He has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Joe Walsh, Boz Scaggs, Gladys Knight, and Marvin Gaye. He worked for the Ice Capades playing trumpet. Curt grew up in Torrance. He was a featured soloist in the Army Band in Germany.
JOHN THOMAS, TRUMPET:
John Thomas has toured and or recorded as first trumpet for Count Basie, Chick Corea, Woody Herman, Maria Schneider, Louie Bellson, Bob Florence, Don Ellis, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Matt Cattingub, Glenn Miller Band, Harry James Band, BB King, Ray Charles, Bill Holman, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton, Sammy Davis Jr., Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Gerald Wilson, Cheryl Crow, George Duke, Dionne Warwick, David Sandborn and many others. You can hear John on hundreds of television shows and motion pictures including the academy award winning movie “Ray”. Professor Thomas has presented trumpet master classes sponsored by Fulbright grants at Universities in: Lima, Peru; Zagreb, Croatia; Slovenia, Graz and Vienna, Austria; Bankok, Thailand; Cape Town, South Africa and the United States. Professor Thomas is the author of the recent instructional DVD, “Trumpet Secrets Revealed” distributed by Hal Leonard. John is a Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California and is a Yamaha and Calicchio artist and clinician.
JEFF KAYE, TRUMPET:
Jeff Kay is the newest member of Johnny Vana and The Band Alumni. He played in the Ray Charles Orchestra for 19 years. Jeff has worked with jazz greats Lionel Hampton, The Clifford Jordon Big Band, Junior Cook, Diane Schuur, Bill Perkins, and Pete Christlieb. Jeff played on the soundtrack of the movie “Ray” and has performed with the bands of Buddy Childers, Anthony Wilson, Bill Holman and Steve Huffsteter.
LARRY DOUGHERTY, TENOR, BARITONE SAX, CLARINET, FLUTE:
Larry’s driving baritone sax solos provide the “bottom” so vital to a powerhouse swing band like the Big Band Alumni. Prior to joining this band, Larry has been featured with a number of name swing bands including the Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, as well as Gus Bivona, Alvino Rey, and Guy Lombardo and Clarde Endon. Larry has worked with an impressive list of vocalists including Tony Bennett, Mel Torme’, Frankie Lame, Nancy Wilson, Keely Smith, Robert Goulet and Gordon MacRae, and with vocal groups such as The Modernaires, the Four Freshmen and the Mills Brothers. He is also as regular with The Rat Pack in Las Vegas and nationally.
GORDON BASH, BASS:
Gordon is a Pittsburgh native. He is the youngest member of the band. He is the only player who is too young to have played with the major big bands. His ability to sight read made him an easy choice to become our bass player. He teaches privately, fills
in at the Los Angeles Music Academy, and leads his own group called Bash, a rock band that tours regularly. He works with the Childrens Museum of Los Angeles as a teacher/facilitator for their elementary literacy program and as a sound engineer for the Readers Theater Project, and is currently scoring his first motion picture.
LANNY APLANAP, SAXOPHONE:
Lanny plays saxophone with Johnny Vana and The Big Band Alumni. You can catch him on Tuesday mornings at Las Hadas in Northridge playing music with the band.
CENGIZ YALTKAYA, PIANO:
Pianist Cengiz Yaltkaya was born in Istanbul, Turkey, spent his high school years in Switzerland and moved to New York in 1967. He studied at Berklee, was an arranger and producer on the staff of Atlantic Records during 1976-86, and became busy as a composer for films and musical theater. He has lived in Los Angeles since 1995 and has since been active on the local jazz scene in addition to appearing at jazz festivals overseas. And now he has become a member of our band.
RON HERSHEWE, GUITAR:
Ron Hershewe has played with the best of them; Buddy Collette, the Mills brothers, Johnny Mathis, Rich Little and many others. He has been a performing and touring musician for many years and is very well respected by other guitar players and thought of as one of the best playing today. In addition to jazz, Ron has great fun playing Latin, Brazilian and other styles of music.
CHIP SMITH, SAXOPHONE:
Chip is one of the newest members in the band.
GARY GIBBONS, DRUMMER:
Gary Gibbons began his drumming career at age 10, when he first started playing in a band and receiving private drum (and guitar) lessons. By the time he was 14 years old he was working three to four nights a week throughout New York playing music by The Rolling Stones, Chicago, Rufus and Kool & The Gang. The band was signed with a booking agency, and they all became union members of the American Federation of Musicians.
When Gary was 16, his band went on a 2 ½-month tour of Morocco, where he performed for the Prince in an outdoor concert in Tangiers, in addition to playing the discos in Bogart’s Casablanca. He also received the “Louis Armstrong Jazz” award and the “All-Star Jazz Band” award for Best Drummer in New York State while playing in his high school jazz band. Gary became the leader of the then 9-piece Crossroads Band, playing the tight funky brass sounds of bands such as Tower of Power. Little did he know he would later work with the guitarist from that band, Bruce Conte. At a collaboration performance, Gary US Bonds invited the band to perform as his rhythm section; they declined the offer.
In 1980, Gary moved to New York City where he continued his professional music career and instruction with studio great Gary Chester and jazz legend Joe Morello. He freelanced all over New York City doing studio work, commercials and live gigs. During this time he was also a steady member of a busy Latin band.
In 1990, Gary moved to Los Angeles where he has flourished musically. His drumming can be heard on television and film sound tracks for shows such as “ER”,“The Honeymooners” and “Bob Newhart” specials—and more recently the film soundtrack for “Kettle of Fish.” Gary has recorded many CDs and performed live with hundreds of artists playing jazz, latin, blues, big band, R & B, Broadway shows and pop music styles. He also maintained a steady gig at the Loews Hotel In Santa Monica for 14 years performing with the Daniel May Trio with featured guest artists. For nearly two decades, Gary has maintained a steady performance schedule with the City Sound Singers, an urban-outreach group lifting the hearts of the homeless through music and praise, at Missions and churches throughout Los Angeles.
Some of Gary’s credits include the following (see full list of Artists below):
Eric Marienthal, Buddy Greco, Herb Jeffries, Sherwood Sledge, Barbara Morrison, Bruce Conte, Stephanie Haynes, Sam Most, Tierney Sutton, Howlett (Smitty) Smith, Steve Waddington, Llew Matthews, David Moscoe, Stuart Elster, Jean Shy, Thelma Jones, Bob Marlo, Arlette McCoy, Marilyn King, Rick Blessing, Chadwick, Billy Valentine, Mickie Rhyne, Diane Witherspoon, Joanie Sommers, Jackie Allen, Janice Anderson, Jelsa Palao, Pat Tuzzolino, Pauline Wilson, Warren Wiebe, Mark Winkler, Dee Dee McNeil, Ron Eschete and Ron Ellington Shy.
ANNE KING, TRUMPET:
It all started as a ‘get out of class’ scheme. It was the 5th grade, and whomever wanted to play an instrument could get out of class early. Anne’s hand shot up and it all began.
Originally, like most every other student, she wanted to play the drums. But when handed sticks and a rubber mat, Anne handed them back and requested something “more exciting”. This time she was handed a trumpet mouthpiece. That was all she would get for the first week, with instructions to practice buzzing. That first week was filled with anticipation. Trumpet awareness kicked in. Gabriel… the Cavalry,,, Reveille… ducks came from far and wide.
Before long, a nice lady from church offered to loan Anne a coronet in exchange for performing at Sunday service. Though petrified, it was too good a deal to pass up. She accepted and began performing in public.
In junior high school a jazz band was formed, which led on to high school jazz band. Increasingly music became a major passion in Anne’s life.
One day, there were auditions for a student orchestra led by none other than Chuck Mangione. Auditions were held throughout the Bay Area and Anne was thrilled to win First Chair. But that was nothing compared to playing Chuck’s arrangements, complete with full strings and his touring rhythm section. Standing within the excitement of that well written, massive sound, her dedication increased.
She listened daily to horn bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Chicago, and bebop bands like Horace Silver and Art Blakey, and to the cross-over band The Brecker Brothers. Blue Mitchell, Tom Harrell and Randy Brecker became her favorite trumpet players to listen to.
Growing up in the Bay Area there was a lot of inspiration to be heard. Tower of Power at the Old Waldorf, Maynard Ferguson at the Great American Music Hall, Sarah Vaughn… Art Lande…
As often as possible, Anne would venture up to the Fairmont Hotel, put her ear to the door of the Venetian Room and listen to the faint sounds of Tony Bennett. Once in a while, the ‘hard on the inside, soft on the outside’ Maitre d would allow her to step inside with a warning to stay silent and still. That wasn’t difficult. It was sheer breathtaking. The showroom was filled with elegant people sitting at elegant tables. Onstage under magnificent lights, smiling and singing to the world was Tony Bennett. Behind him was the most swingingest band Anne had ever heard. There was no question at this point that Anne was hooked, and she never looked back.
After high school, Anne decided to move to Los Angeles to attend CalState Northridge and study music. Within months of her arrival Ann Patterson invited Anne to do Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show with Ann’s band Maiden Voyage, which included playing a 24-bar solo. After three years at CSUN Anne decied to pursue a full time music career.
Born in Oakland, California, Anne now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mike and their two much-loved pound puppies.
DENNIS MICHELTREE, SAXOPHONE:
Jazz saxophonist and composer Dennis Mitcheltree has just released his 5th album as a leader, Nevermind the Circus. Mitcheltree is a mainstay of the tenor saxophone, having been based in New York City from 1987-2007 and in Los Angeles from 2007 to the present.
Dennis has performed and recorded with a virtual Who’s Who of the jazz world: Clark Terry, George Cables, Bill Holman, Bob Moses, Jim McNeely, Howard Johnson, Gary Bartz, Kenny Werner, James Williams, Don Sickler, Charli Persip, Pete Yellin along with contemporaries Uri Caine, Ingrid Jensen, Johannes Wallmann, Andy Milne, David Binney, Ben Shepherd, Dan Schnelle and Andy Sanesi.
Mitcheltree was born and raised in Wisconsin, picking up the oboe and saxophone at age 12. He received a scholarship from Berklee College of Music where he graduated with a Magna cum Laude degree in Jazz Performance in 1987. He is the Artistic Director for the American Music Group, widely known for the INFLUENCES series presented at Carnegie Hall, and an award-winning saxophonist and composer.
A former student of Joe Viola, Billy Pierce, Jim McNeely, George Garzone and Joe Lovano, Dennis is also a renowned jazz teacher and clinician of jazz improvisation, harmony, composition and saxophone/woodwinds. He teaches privately and as a guest artist/clinician/lecturer at universities and jazz education programs worldwide.