Ed Bagatini (Trombone): Mr. Batagini was born, raised and schooled in Calumet, MI where the circle of 4ths were taught along with the three R’s. With maternal encouragement, he graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Music Education and then became trombonist with the 5th Army Headquarters Band. Mr. Bagatini taught instrumental music in various schools in Southwestern Michigan and set the foundations for the band departments at Lake Michigan College and Lake Michigan Catholic Schools. He has arranged music for the Navy School of Music, Dan Belloc, Kai Winding, Tommy Shepard, Bill Russo, Bill Porter, Mike Suter, Bobby Davidson, Western Michigan University, the Jazz Assemblage and the Nostalgics. Mr. Bagatini has performed with Benny Goodman, Patti Page, Vic Damone, Bob Snyder and Bill Evans. Mr. Bagatini and his wife, Adrienne, currently operate a music store in St. Joseph, MI, and his current groups include The Ed Bagatini Trio, The Dynabones, and the Ed Bagatini New Swing Orchestra.
George Bean (Trumpet/Flugelhorn): George Bean learned to play trumpet during the 40's, jamming with his father's friends. He played lead through high school and college and on into the Navy for four years. The 50's found George on the road with combos and with the big bands of Stan Kenton, Harry James, Count Basie and others. Extensive show work followed the road, as George worked most of the major acts of the 60's including Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Nat "King" Cole, Sara Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, etc. The 70's took George into the studio playing on Jingles and recording dates. The 80's gave us a George Bean at home in virtually any setting. An accomplished reader and soloist who could be found all over town in virtually any idiom... traditional jazz, swing, bebop... you name it! His unforgettable style has now grown into his fifth decade of making jazz and is born of all those experiences and knowledge. And…..that’s jazz.
Tad Calcara (Clarinet): Tad Calcara is principal clarinetist for the Utah Symphony. Born and raised in Oceanside, California, he began studying piano at age five and clarinet at age twelve. His first clarinet teacher was his father. In addition to his classical studies, he played jazz and swing music with his grandfather Carl Calcara, leader of the popular Musi-Cals Dance Combo in Southern California. Mr. Calcara studied clarinet at the Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Cleveland Institute of Music and attended summer music festivals at Tanglewood, Aspen, Round Top, La Jolla Summer Fest, and Music Academy of the West. Prior to his appointment with the Utah Symphony, he performed with the New World Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. He has won the grand prize of the San Diego Musical Merit Society and was finalist in both the Buffet International Clarinet Competition and the Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg Competition. Calcara has been called a walking lexicon of big-band music. His New Deal Swing uses the original charts as played by such legends as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and others from the 1930s and '40s.
Chris Carani (Bass): Christopher Carani is a Chicago native who was exposed to Franz Jackson and the unique sounds of Chicago Jazz from early childhood. As a son of Chicago bassist, J.J. Carani, going to work with dad meant a first-class introduction to jazz. Chris grew up studying classical violin, playing ‘trio’ gigs in his living room with his brothers and listening backstage to the best Chicago jazz had to offer. It was during this time that Chris met and befriended the legendary Franz Jackson and his family, later becoming one of Franz Jackson’s first-call bassists. His time spent with his ‘trio’ of talented brothers (Carl and Vincent) also paid off as they have performed together throughout the world. Mr. Carani has studied, played and recorded with the likes of Gene Bertoncini, Franz Jackson, Johnny Frigo, John Bany, Erwin Helfer, Joe Johnson, Jimmy Herndon, George Bean, Fred Sturm, John Harmon, Paulinho Garcia, Ike Sturm, Janet Planet, Ron Perrillo, George Fludas, Leon Joyce, and Zvonimir Tot. As a respected musician in Chicago today, Chris bridges the sounds of the past and present on Bass, Guitar and Vocals.
Robert Cousins (Drums): Robert Cousins, born January 24, 1930, started his musical career by playing actively in school concert and marching bands, brass ensemble and symphonic orchestras, plus what little academic jazz there was in those days (practically none). He started gigging at age 13, playing weddings, dances, WWII Post Exchange dances and USO dances. He attended Syracuse University and was active in the marching and symphonic bands and the symphony orchestra. Playing tympani, he premiered the first local performance of Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion in 1948. Mr. Cousins co-developed a traditional jazz band, The Salty City Five, in 1951 which was to become his livelihood until 1955. Among other venues, the band played at Chicago’s Blue Note opposite Jack Teegarden. Mr. Cousins settled in Chicago and played many club dates at the Red Arrow in Stickney, IL, The Green Mill, The Jazz Limited and the 1111 Club. He has played concerts with Bobby Hackett, Teddy Wilson, Jimmy McPartland, Wild Bill Davison, Barney Bigard, Roy Eldridge, Franz Jackson, Muggsy Spanier, Joe Sullivan, the Dukes of Dixieland, Art Hodes, and Bud Freeman and joined Coleman Hawkins on his final television show and concert in 1969. Mr. Cousins is a charter member of the Sounds of Swing band, Dave Remington’s big band, Pieces of Eight octet and played drums with the Chicago-based “Fletcher-Basington” band, a 17-piece repertory band playing the important big-band works of Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others.
Larry Dwyer (Piano and Trombone): Larry Dwyer is Assistant Director of Bands and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Dwyer is a graduate of Notre Dame, where he was Outstanding Bandsman (1966), trombone soloist all four years with the concert band, and twice named "Best Trombonist" at the Collegiate Jazz Festival. He earned his Masters degree in music education and did doctoral studies at the University of Illinois. Dwyer has been principal trombonist of the South Bend Symphony Pops Orchestra, pianist with his own jazz trio, and has performed with such jazz greats as Thad Jones, Clark Terry, Sonny Stitt, and Sarah Vaughan. Among his jazz band compositions are a religious trilogy: The Old Beelzebub Blues, Lord Save the Sinner, and The Abha Kingdom. His orchestral arrangements of the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and others have been performed and recorded by the South Bend Symphony, Houston Pops, Utah Symphony, and Rochester Philharmonic. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Mr. Dwyer taught band and jazz band in the South Bend public schools, and was director of jazz studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
Yves Francois (Trumpet): Trumpeter Yves Francois has been active on Chicago's jazz scene since the '70s. Yves is a huge fan of early jazz and started out as a jazz/blues trumpeter. He is still active today as Yves Francois et Rocambu Jazz, a swinging group that still plays jazz & blues but also highlife and Caribbean. In the '80s Yves issued two LPs, in tiny quantities, on Franz Jackson's Pinnacle label. Yves Francois himself was influenced by the great jazz musicians he heard first in records (Louis Armstrong, Frankie Newton, Oran “Hot Lips” Page, Booker Pittman, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, Slim Gaillard, etc), then live. He was helped by tenor sax and clarinet legend Franz Jackson. The musician who Yves was most touched by was the legendary trumpeter Oran “Hot Lips” Page, whose plunger work made Yves work primarily with the plunger mute and growl, and a blues oriented intonation (curiously enough Page, as well as Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington and another musician Yves played with, tenor saxophonist Paul Bascomb, also recorded rumbas and calypsos, unlike most jazz musicians from his generation). Yves was also influenced by his family as well. Being French and the family growing up in Africa, Yves also listened to African, Caribbean and Arabic music as well as jazz and French chanson and tango. This gives Francois’ Rocambu Jazz a sound not quite like any other band. The band members come from many different musical backgrounds to bring about this reworking of older urban populist music with a jazz background. Check out Yves website: www.yvesfrancoisjazz.com
Art Hoyle (Trumpet/Fluglehorn): Arthur “Art” Hoyle is a graduate of the Gary, IN, Roosevelt High School. While at Roosevelt he was student conductor of the Concert Band, associate editor of the high school yearbook, and served in the student senate. He went to Hampton Institute and to Roosevelt College in Chicago. He performed with the US Air Force Bands from 1951-1955. His professional career includes tours of the United States, Canada, Europe and North Africa. His outstanding ability with his trusty trumpet found him routing with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Lloyd Price Orchestra, Red Saunders, CBS Staff Orchestra, Sherman House Orchestra, and the Mill Run Theater Orchestra. He has performed on the movie soundtracks of “Super Fly”, “Claudine”, “Piece of the Action”, “Sparkle”, “Short Eyes” and many more. Mr. Hoyle has toured with Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Ralph Marterie, Burt Bacharach, Peggy Lee, and Henry Mancini. Art has recording credits with Sarah Vaughn, Quincy Jones, Woody Herman, Ramsey Lewis, Natalie Cole, and many others. He has performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McCrae, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warrick, Billy Eckstine, Dean Martin, and Milton Berle. To top it all off, Mr. Hoyle was the National Endowment of the Arts artist-in-residence at the Lew Wallace School during the 1980-81 academic year. He is currently performing on radio and television commercials and is also doing recording, theater, and hotel engagements in the Chicago area as well as performing with Jon Faddis and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.
Judi K. (Vocals): Judi K, one of the top swing singers around today, is a delightful and very musical vocalist who always makes a strong impression. Jethro Burns (of the famed Homer and Jethro) was a guest at one of the annual recitals at the school where Judi K. taught folk guitar. After hearing her sing with her students, he asked her to sing a song with him and soon said to her, “I think I can put you to work.” It was an important turning point in Judi’s life for the next two years she worked local concerts and clubs, and finally orchestra hall with Burns until cancer took his life. Judi found herself at Andy’s Jazz Club’s Jazz at Noon and was asked to sing a tune with Franz Jackson and the band which was the beginning of what would ultimately turn out to be a nearly daily performance alliance with Jackson and trombonist Jim Beebe’s Chicago Jazz working corporate events, weddings, and ongoing gigs at Dick’s Last Resort and Braxton Seafood Grille which continued for several years. She worked briefly with Gary Miller’s Celebration Dixieland Band, toured with cornetist Connie Jones (“a crash course in learning to sing with a full band”), went back with Miller and then back to Beebe, who quickly hired her to sing with his jazz group. When Beebe’s health declined, resulting in his retirement and death two years later, Judi K. took time off from music to care for him. Now that she is back, she is singing in prime form. Her recordings, ‘It’s Been A Long, Long Time’ and ‘I’m Nobody’s Baby’, are from a few years ago and feature her interacting with the likes of Beebe, Jackson, Jethro Burns, Truck Parham, Connie Jones, Dan Barrett, Sonny Turner, the Dick Kress Big Band and many others. She is currently performing for jazz festivals such as the LaCrosse Jazz Festival and the Pecos Valley Jazz Festival in New Mexico, as well as outdoor concerts and private affairs. With her very attractive voice, desire to grow, driving swinging style, and her rare ability to bring out the beauty in the lyrics that she interprets, it seems certain that the best is yet to come for Judi K. and her many fans. Hugh Leal (Banjo): Hugh Leal has been active in promoting, recording and playing jazz in Windsor and Detroit for over twenty-five years. In the past two decades his Parkwood Records label documented some of the last of the surviving 1920s and 30s jazzmen, beginning with Doc Cheatham’s first feature album as a “singer/trumpeter”. The LP was named as “one of the top 10 jazz albums of 1983’ by New York Times jazz critic John S. Wilson. Hugh has produced recordings of Marcus Belgrave in the company of Cheatham, Art Hodes, Franz Jackson, Sammy Price, Charlie Gabriel and others. As a rhythm guitarist Leal has led his band, recording a CD with Chicago sax pioneer Franz Jackson at the 1998 Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival and has appeared at the Bix Beiderbecke and Sacramento Dixieland Festivals. Find out more about Hugh at his website: www.hughleal.com Billy Nicks (Drums): Billy “Stix” Nicks (William Tyrel Nicks) was given nickname “Stix” when he was in high school because of his obsession of always carrying around drum sticks practicing on anything in reach. Self taught, Billy was finally equipped as a professional at age 17. His quartet played at weekly dance parties for all the local high schools and his first band, “The Blue Notes,” played parties around town from 1953 to 1955. They were known for their showmanship and were called the Whopper Bopping Show Stoppers.Nicks and “The Rhythm Rockers” came into their own on the summer of 1954 and were first hired to do the grand opening Saturday afternoon teen dance party show for Club 46 WNDU which led to a year-long contract with WNDU. He toured and recorded with Jackie Ivory and the Gents of Soul as well as Jr. Walker and the All-Stars where he appeared on the songs such as “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” and others. He has played the Apollo Theater as well as venues in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Los Angles and Detroit and performed with Wilson Picket, The Staple Singers, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., The Fifth Dimension, Leontyne Price, James Cleveland, Marvin Gaye, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Four Tops, The Isley Brothers, The Five Stairsteps, The Spinners, The Temptations, The Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Warwick, Jerry Butler, Adam West & Frank Gorshen to name a few. He also was a member of Dick Clark’s National Band Stand TV show. Nicks is actively playing and touring with his own groups “The Rhythm Rockers”, the “Billy Nicks Jazz Trio“ and the reformed “Jr. Walker All Star Band”. Nicks has also branched into promotion of other artists and music publication. Nicks also teaches at his privately owned studio and affiliated groups as the Percussion Studio Director of Nicks Music Studio in South Bend, IN. Nicks’ lifelong loyal relationship with the University of Notre Dame since 1955 brought him a teaching position of percussion at UND from 2004 to present. You can read more about Billy on his website: www.billynicks.com
Jim Pickley (Piano): Jim Pickley is a Michiana native who graduated from Elkhart High School. He went on to attend Indiana University-Bloomington where he received a B.M. and M.M. in piano performance. He was a band leader for five years on various cruise ships and has performed with Clark Terry, Winton Marsalis, Bill Watrous, and Ed Shaunessy He currently is the leader of the Jim Pickley Trio, is a soloist with the Elkhart Symphony (Ravel Concerto in G, Gershwin Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue), and serves as music director of Our Lady of the Lake in Edwardsburg, Michigan. You can catch Jim playing regularly with his trio at Club LaSalle in South Bend, the Bent Oak in Elkhart and with Franz or with The Jim Pickley Trio at the Woodfire Trattoria in Dowagiac, Michigan.
Crystal Ristow (Vocals): Crystal Ristow has been performing with Crystal Blue Jazz around Michigan, Indiana and Illinois for about 7 years. Before that she traveled for 2 years with a group singing for the Pope, country presidents and thousands of others around the world. Crystal’s sultry vocals, smooth timing and deep feeling lend themselves to a wonderful combination of blues and jazz.
Lisa Roti (Vocals) - Not on "Milestone": Lisa's musical studies began when she did. Growing up in a musical family, with her tenor-voiced father and saxophonist Grandfather, made studying the craft of singing playtime. Later she sought out the roots of Chicago Jazz and what she found was a crash course in swing from some of the Swing Era's early birds. Franz Jackson, now 95, took her under his wing and made her one of the youngest to have the opportunity to play, learn and record with a Jazz legend of his generation. Lisa has also had the opportunity to study, both on and off the stage, with some of the most respected artists in Jazz such as Gene Bertoncini, Franz Jackson, Terell Stafford, John Harmon, Fred Sturm and Janet Planet.
Ms. Roti's career has helped her realize her greatest passions, namely music and travel. She has traveled extensively, bringing her voice to Europe, Asia, North, Central & South America while having the opportunity to perform for such dignitaries as the ambassadors to Brazil, Portugal, Thailand, Guatemala and Germany as well as members of the Canadian Government and even the Princess of Tonga. Though Ms. Roti's repertoire includes songs sung in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, it is her sincere and soulful interpretation that speaks to the listener. Her voice is as unique as it is versatile and it is as pleasant to listen to as it is technically sound. From song choice to interpretation, Lisa Roti seems to have her heart in time with the pulse of what's happening now, endearing listeners young and old to the Joy of Jazz. Read more about Lisa at www.lisaroti.com.
Eric Schneider (Alto Sax, Clarinet and Soprano Sax): Eric Schneider was born and raised in the Chicago area. A prodigy, he was able to play melodies on the piano at age three. He started piano lessons at five, clarinet lessons at age ten and saxophone lessons at fifteen. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois, he moved back to Chicago and joined Jim Beebe’s Chicago Jazz Band. An audition tape sent to Earl “Fatha” Hines resulted in a four-year world-wide engagement, as well as the album Eric and Earl (Hines insisted on second billing). With Hine’s blessing, Eric accepted an offer to join the Count Basie Orchestra and toured with Basie for two years and recorded three albums including the Grammy Award-winning 88 Basie Street. He has recorded two other albums as a leader and many others as a sideperson. After six years of more than forty weeks per year of traveling, Eric stopped leading the nomadic life, but not before working with Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Benny Goodman, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn, Rosemary Clooney and Billy Eckstine. These days, by choice, he works primarily around Chicago in a myriad of musical settings. Touring again is not out of the question, especially if golf or skiing can be incorporated into the trip.
Hank Tausend (Drums): Originally from New York, the late Hank Tausend played with Woody Allen’s Jazz Band and Your Father’s Moustache Banjo Band. He came to Chicago in 1968 and played with Mike Walbridge’s Chicago Footwarmers, West End Jazz Band, Prohibition Jazz Orchestra, Jim Clark’s Jazz People, Roy Rubenstein’s Chicago Hot 6 and was the leader of the Whooppeemakers Jazz Band. In addition to traditional jazz, Mr. Tausend enjoyed playing many types of music including symphonic, church, marching band and bluegrass. He taught percussion at Mayfair Academy as well as privately in Chicago and was a member of the Lyric Opera Lecture Corps.
Neil Tesser (Emcee): Neil Tesser has written on and broadcast jazz in Chicago for more than 30 years. Jazz critic for the Chicago READER and author of The Playboy Guide to Jazz, he was Playboy's jazz critic from 1991-2002 and the first jazz critic for USA Today, and has also served as a monthly columnist for Jazziz Magazine and jazz critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. A former adjunct professor in jazz history at Northwestern University, and a charter member of the programming committee for the Chicago Jazz Festival, he has also served two terms as National Trustee to the Board of NARAS (the Recording Academy), and serves on several of that organization's national committees, including the Executive Committee. In December 2005, he received an "Award Of Honor" from the Chicago Music Awards. In 2001 Tesser received a Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for his liner notes to two Rhino Records reissues: Coltrane Jazz and Coltrane Plays the Blues, two classics originally pressed by Atlantic in the 1960s. These awards are granted each year by ASCAP, the world's largest performing-rights organization. Author of liner notes for nearly 200 albums - one of which, the Stan Getz reissue The Girl from Ipanema, received a Grammy nomination in 1985 - Tesser previously hosted nightly jazz programs at Chicago Public Radio (1980-1996) and WNIB-FM (1974-1976). His broadcast credits include arts commentaries for the NPR series Future Forward and for all-news WBBM-AM.
Darrel Tidaback (Bass): A long-time resident of San Antonio, TX, Mr. Tidaback currently resides with his family in South Bend, Indiana where he teaches as an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University South Bend, Saint Mary’s College, and at the University of Notre Dame. While in San Antonio, Mr. Tidaback could be heard with numerous jazz groups and as a frequent performer for the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra's pops concerts. Currently he may be heard with jazz groups in Northern Indiana, Southwestern Michigan, and Chicago, and as a performer with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, the South Bend Chamber Singers and the Vesper Chorale. He has performed with such jazz luminaries as Lionel Hampton, Rosemary Clooney, Bucky Pizzerelli and Louis Belson as well as with entertainers Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Carol Channing, and Mitzi Gaynor. For the past fourteen years Mr. Tidaback has been an arranger and performer with the chamber ensemble Musical Offerings. He has performed on more than twenty recordings including his own Timelines. Mr. Tidaback holds an undergraduate degree in music from Saint Mary's University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas, San Antonio.