AJW Board and Officers

Debra Erck


Debra Erck recently retired from Austin ISD after 30 years of teaching, 28 of those at Hill Elementary.  She is a vocalist and flautist, currently participating in the music program at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, TX.  Her passion for curriculum development has provided opportunities for collaborative work with a variety of arts organizations, including Austin Opera, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Children’s Museum, and the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Debra joined the AJW Board in September 2016.

Susanna Sharpe

Vice President

Susanna Sharpe has been entertaining audiences in Austin, Texas, since 1984. She was the leader of the popular dance band Susanna Sharpe and Samba Police from 1988 to 2000. Susanna performed and taught workshops for 10 years with Circle of Light, a project of the late singer/composer Tina Marsh, bringing music, dance, and stories of different cultures to audiences of all ages. By day, Susanna is a writer and communications coordinator for LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at UT Austin, which makes her a natural fit as our quarterly newsletter designer. Susanna joined the AJW Board in 2021.

Lana Harris


Lana Harris is a native Austinite and lifelong classical musician, performing with the Austin Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and other symphony orchestras and choral groups in central Texas. She earned her Plan II Liberal Arts degree from UT Austin followed by her JD from UT Law, all while continuing her music career. Lana served for several years on the ASO Board and ASO orchestra committee, as well as on the Board of Austin Federation of Musicians. Lana has retired from her law career, but continues to perform with ASO and other groups. She joined the AJW Board in November 2023.

Todd Sloan


Todd Sloan is a member of Starlight Symphony of Hayes County and the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, and has deep roots in Austin’s music community.  He worked alongside his father, Dr. David Sloan, in their family business Westbank String Shop, serving the Austin orchestral community since 1995. Since Doctor Sloan’s retirement in 2012, Todd assumed sole proprietorship of the business.  Todd plays flute, cello, bass, and guitar. He joined the AJW Board in September 2016.

Mariann Bokako

AISD Music Specialist Representative

Mariann Bokako joined the AJW Board in September 2022. She has been a Music Specialist in Austin ISD for many years, currently working at Casis Elementary. By night, Mariann plays and sings for a reggae band and a Congolese band. She has served as a worship leader and plays piano/organ for several churches in the area. Mariann holds a degree from Huston-Tillotson (B.A) and is working on her masters at Texas Tech University (M.M.Ed).

John May

Hiring Committee

John May recently retired as Senior Executive Director of Fine Arts for San Antonio ISD. Prior to this, he was Coordinator/Interim Supervisor of Fine Arts for Austin ISD. His musical background includes 20 years as a high school choral director. John’s degrees include a BMEd. from Phillips University, an M.M. in Conducting from West Texas A&M University, and an Ed.D. in Music Education from the University of Houston. John joined the AJW Board in September 2023.

Jimi Ballard

Board Member

Jimi Ballard enjoyed a long career in technology, mainly at Oracle Corporation. He ended his tech career there as head of Oracle Education Foundation, promoting education with technology. OEF created programs used by schools, educators, and students in over 70 countries. Since then, Jimi has worked as a real-estate developer, entrepreneur, and investor, while also serving on non-profit boards for Knowbility, Inc. and The Austin Zen Center. Jimi joined the AJW Board in November 2023.

Alan Retamozo

Board Member

Alan Retamozo is an active composer/guitarist in Austin, having worked with ALC Live at Moody Theater, Raven Chacon, Adam Rudolph, Panoramic Voices, and many others. He serves as owner/coordinator for Live Oak Music, LLC. Alan has scored for orchestral and chamber jazz as well as multimedia, dance, and sound design formats. He currently works in film and media scoring. Alan joined the AJW Board in February 2024.


Michael Melinger


Michael Melinger founded AJW in 1994, serving as both Executive Director and Music Director for 27 years. After retiring from live performance in 2021, Michael continued in his role as Executive Director for three additional years, while AJW pianist Shawn Ellison took the reins as Music Director. Michael performed over 45 years in Texas and Oregon, earning a MA in Jazz Performance from the University of North Texas at Denton. He retired from AJW after 30 years and now resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Maggie Walsh


Maggie Walsh came on the AJW Board in April 2023 and served through June 2024. Maggie previously served on the Boards of University YWCA and Austin Montessori School and has worked in learning development and as an executive coach for over thirty years. She was the Vice President of Leadership Development for The Forum Corporation, a global consulting firm, and has maintained her own consulting business since 1997. Maggie earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Rosita Bradham


Rosita Bradham is the Principal Consultant for Blackbaud, Inc., helping clients implement comprehensive arts and cultural solutions that meet their unique nonprofit needs. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Rosita was Associate Director of Education at the Armstrong Community Music School of the Austin Lyric Opera. She has served on grants review panels for the NEA, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division. Rosita received an award for her role as an Arts Management Fellow at the 43rd National Opera Convention in Washington, D.C. in 2005.  She served on the AJW Board from July 2005 to January 2024. As one of our longest-serving Board members, Rosita has been integral to AJW’s success as a Central Texas nonprofit organization..

Pam Ziegler


Pam Zeigler served for many years as the Music Specialist at Winn Elementary School. Winn Elementary was one of Austin Jazz Workshop’s pilot schools back in 1994, and since then AJW and Winn have shared a very deep relationship.  She served in the crucial role of district liason, and directed the student choir for the annual AJW Jazz Jubilee for four years.  Pam served as an active member of the AJW Board for 20 years, moving to Emeritus status in September 2020.

Leroy Wormley


Leroy Wormley has been a long time supporter of the AJW, joining the Board in September 2005.  Now retired, the former IBM Community Relations Manager has  been instrumental in seeking funds, participating in events, attending performances and providing board oversight.  Leroy helped AJW expand its presence in the Round Rock ISD through his networking initiative, resulting in a 30% increase in our school outreach.  In his current Emeritus role, he remains available to the Austin Jazz Workshop to provide board development advice as needed.

Mollie Tower


Mollie Tower is President of Mighty Music Publishing, LLC, a company dedicated to the musical education of young and old through the power of combining cutting-edge technology and masterpieces of music literature.  She has worked with students at all levels, K – college, including 8 years in the School of Music at Texas State University-San Marcos.  During her twenty-one years as Coordinator of Music for Austin ISD, Mollie created and organized many district-wide programs, including SNAP-TOO, a program that first brought AJW into Austin schools, and the Music Memory Program, which is now sponsored in Texas by UIL and taught in 14 states.  Mollie joined the AJW Board in September 2017, and moved to Emeritus Board status in September 2022.

Terrance McDaniel

Executive Director

Terrance McDaniel been hired to serve as the new Executive Director for Austin Jazz Workshop, and we could not be more thrilled to welcome him! Terrance brings many years of organizational and professional performing experience to the nonprofit, including stints with Women in Jazz and the 26-Music School in Austin. Terrance will continue his fine work drumming for the group, while stepping into an expanded role managing AJW.

AJW Talent-Current Musicians

Shawn Ellison

Campus Music Director/Piano

Shawn Ellison has worked with Cat Anderson, Slide Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Gorshin, and Phyllis Diller. He has performed with the UT Jazz Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, The Platters, The Coasters, The Drifters, and others. His band Native Sun won Best Jazz Band in the Austin Chronicle Music Poll in 1990, 1991, and 1992.

Gil Del Bosque

AJW Youth Jam Director/Saxophone

Gil Del Bosque is a first-call saxophonist who has played with Boyz II Men, Huey Lewis, Aaron Neville, and many others. His debut record “Here With You” was released in 2017, and a second release is forthcoming. Gil is a graduate of the University of North Texas (BA) and UT Austin (MA).

Glenn Rexach


Glenn Rexach has played guitar for 50 years and bass for 41 years. He has performed with jazz legend Eddie Harris, virtuoso violin and oud performer Simon Shaheen, and has toured the country and abroad with Strings Attached, The Vanguards, the Dave Sebree Band, and Just Released. Locally, he performs with the Jacqui Walker Band and fronts the Glenn Rexach Group, a contemporary jazz group focusing on his own eclectic compositions.

Michael Stevens


Michael Stevens has obtained his BM in Jazz Studies from Howard University in Washington , D.C. while studying under pianist and recording artist Geri Allen. While in D.C., Mr. Stevens was an instructor for D.C. Artworks Summer Youth Program. In Austin, he has worked with James Polk, Pam Hart, Blaze, and Tina Marsh’s Circle of Light.

Masumi Jones


Masumi Jones came to Austin from her native Tokyo in 2008. Locally, she works with The Jitterbug Vipers, Sarah Sharp, Alex Coke, and others. Ms. Jones was voted Best Drummer by the Austin Chronicle Music Awards of 2013, and has also performed with the award-winning Tapestry Dance Company since 2010.

Terrance McDaniel


Terrance McDaniel has been a jazz performer and educator for many years. He co-founded the Amarillo Jazz Society, and has worked with Women in Jazz, Andre Hayward, James Polk, and many others. Terrance is the Executive Director for Drums and Percussion at the 26-Music School in Austin.

Lee “Sparky” Thomason


Lee “Sparky” Thomason is a performer, composer, arranger, and educator from Rockdale, Texas. He is currently playing with the Temple Jazz Orchestra, the Tonic Big Band and Small Group, the N.O.W. (New Original Works) Jazz Orchestra, Duck Soup, and the Urban Achievers Brass Band, among others.

Eundo Park


Eundo Park has shared the stage with many jazz greats including Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, and Bob Brookmeyer. He has been trumpet soloist with the Korean Broadcast Station Symphony Orchestra. Eundo is currently an Adjunct Professor of Music at Concordia University, where he teaches trumpet/brass and leads the University Jazz Collective. He holds advanced degrees from UT Austin and the Eastman School in Rochester, NY.

Paulo Santos


Paulo Santos is a recent graduate of UT, where he studied under John Mills, John Fremgen, and Jeff Helmer. His jazz compositions have been recorded by Big Wy’s Brass Band and David Young’s Detroit City. Paulo has performed with Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Conrad Herwig, and others. Also a classically trained flautist, Paulo is rapidly becoming one of central Texas’ most sought-after young musicians.

AJW Talent-Past Musicians

Paul Baker

Saxophone, arranger

Paul Baker is a composer, saxophonist, educator, and clinician. He has composed and arranged for films, theater, jazz bands of all sizes and levels, and computer games. Paul also owns Baker’s Jazz And More, a music publishing company, and publishes the BJAM Session newsletter.

Derrick Becker


Derrick Becker is an in-demand player on the local and national scene. He has toured the country with the Zac Brown Band as a member of the Grooveline Horns, and performed with Sauce The Band and the Collin Shook-tet. Derrick has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon.

Scott Benner


Scott Benner earned his BM in Jazz Performance from UNT and played in the famed One O’Clock Lab Band, and then a Masters in Music Composition at Texas State University. As an in-demand saxophonist, Mr. Benner has played with Natalie Cole, Baker’s Dozen, and the Austin Symphony, among many others.

Norm Bergeron


Norm Bergeron is the Director of Percussion Studies and Audio Engineering at Temple College in Temple, Texas, and an alumnae of the famed UNT One O’Clock Lab Band. He has performed with Al Jarreau, Poncho Sanchez, Steve Reich, and numerous others. Mr. Bergeron is a proud endorser of Vic Firth Drumsticks and Aquarian Drumheads.

Shawnda Birch


Shawnda Birch spent five years touring with The Young Americans in California and Michigan. Before relocating to Texas, she performed in Los Angeles area jazz clubs. In Austin, she can be found appearing with Celebration, Full Circle, and the Robert Skiles Trio.

Alex Coke


Alex Coke has been a fixture on the jazz scene in central Texas and Europe for almost thirty years. He divides his time between Austin and Amsterdam, where he performed with the Willem Breuker Kollektief for twelve years. Alex has recorded numerous times under his own name, with the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Rich Harney, and others. He is an accomplished flutist and composer.

Ed Corey


Ed Corey has thirty years of professional playing experience. He has performed with Milton Berle, George Burns, Jay Leno, Gladys Knight, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, and numerous others. He is the former Chair of the Music Department at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and is the recipient of the Dean’s Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Music Education.

Glenda Davenport


Glenda Davenport began her singing career in her home state of New York, performing at the Village Gate, Birdland, Iridium, and other venues. Since moving to Texas in 2018, she has become a ‘go-to’ vocalist on the local jazz scene, performing with Andre Hayward, Chris Jones, Jacob Wise, and many others. Glenda has recorded two CDs, Sophisticated Lady and More Than You Know.

Floyd Domino


Floyd Domino received two Grammy awards for his work as an original member of legendary Texas Swing band Asleep at the Wheel. He also performed with Merle Haggard, George Strait, Waylon Jennings, Herb Ellis, Don Walser, and numerous others. Floyd has released five albums for children, appeared on Broadway, and served as Musical Director of Jim Hightower’s nationally-syndicated radio broadcast.

Dianne Donovan


Diane Donovan came to central Texas from her native Canada, where she has performed professionally for fifteen years. She has worked with many Canadian and U.S. symphony orchestras with A Tribute to Harry James, and has released two CD’s of original and standard material. The Oregonian calls Ms. Donovan “an accomplished jazz stylist with a strong voice and uncanny sense of phrasing.”

Ernie Durawa


Ernie Durawa has played drums on two Grammy-winning albums, in 1991 with the Texas Tornadoes and in 1996 with Flaco Jimenez. Other performers he has worked with include John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Delbert McClinton, Joe Turner, Herb Ellis, and Clifford “Honky Tonk” Scott. A San Antonio native, Mr. Durawa was named Ambassador of Goodwill to that city in 1984.

Kenny Felton


Kenny Felton is a versatile drummer who is much in demand for recording sessions and live performances in central Texas. He has played with Delbert McClinton, The Platters, Tamasha Africana, W.C. Clark, and many others. He also fronts his own New Orleans-styled band, Gumbo Ya Ya.

Keith Fiala


Keith Fiala is a founding member of Memphis Train Revue and has performed with Maynard Ferguson, Arturo Sandoval, The Temptations, and many others. He teaches at Temple College and performs Lead Trumpet in the Temple Jazz Orchestra. Mr. Fiala has also authored two popular methods for the trumpet.

Ken George


Ken George has backed up many of the big names in the music industry, including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and others. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas, where he played in the One O’Clock Lab Band.

Mark Gonzales


Mark Gonzales performs with local favorites Mingo Fishtrap, Grupo Fantasma, and Aunt Rubie’s Sweet Jazz Babies. He has worked with Erykah Badu, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, the Neville Brothers, Ozomatli, Stanton Moore, Raul Malo, Frankie Valli, Bob Schneider, and many others.

Luis Guerra


Luis Guerra has played and taught for ten years in the San Francisco Bay area, France, Spain, and Cuba. He has led jazz workshops at the University of Sevilla in Spain and taught music therapy at the Austin School for the Blind. More recently, Luis relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dan Hall


Dan Hall has been a jazz adjudicator and performer for over thirty years. He has performed with Don Rickles, Milton Berle, Debbie Reynolds, and numerous other popular entertainers. He is currently working with the Lawrence Welk Show in Branson, Missouri.

Rich Haering


Rich Haering is a ‘first call’ performer who has played with Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin. Arturo Sandoval, the National Symphony Orchestra, Doc Severinsen, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton & Branford Marsalis and many other world class musicians. He also played with the Airmen of Note in the United States Air Force.

Andre Hayward


Andre Hayward has performed with Roy Hargrove, Betty Carter, Joe Williams, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, among many others. Among his many projects is an in-the-works recording with Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation.

Mady Kaye


Mady Kaye has delighted Austin audiences for many years with her strong interpretations of classic American works. Her 1999 one-woman show, “A Tribute to Tin Pan Alley,” played to sold-out houses at Austin’s Zachary Scott Theater. Ms. Kaye is classically trained in flute, piano, and voice, and is certified to teach in the Kodaly Method. Texas Monthly’s Greg Curtis credits her with “a style that’s hers alone.”

Robert Kazenel


Robert Kazenel is a native of Montreal, Canada, has been in the Austin area since 2004, recording and performing extensively in many musical settings. A graduate of Concordia University, Mr. Kazenel has performed and/or recorded with Sara Hickman, Monty Montgomery, Eric Johnson, Mitch Watkins, Suzi Stern, and many others.

Ange Kogutz


A long-time resident of Austin, Ange has performed in-studio or on stage with such local acts as Rosie Flores, David Messier, Mingo Fishtrap, and Soul Track Mind, and national acts including Kirk Franklin, Charlie Daniels, Boys II Men, and Pinetop Perkins. Ange is a worship leader with multiple church music ministries, leads her own band (Ange K Band) and has performed several hundred weddings and corporate events as an originating member of the Matchmaker Band.

Freddie Mendoza


Freddie Mendoza, a San Antonio native, chaired the Jazz Studies Department at Southwest Texas University in San Marcos. Besides a long list of recording credits, he worked locally with the Jazz Pharoahs, Cula de Cafe, Jazz Vatos, the Lucky Strikes, and many others. Freddie was more recently hired as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Indianapolis, where he assumed duties in Fall 2014.

Donna Mittenthal


Donna Menthol (Mittenthal) is a classically trained vocalist with thirty years experience in the music industry, opening for Dionne Warwick, the Lettermen, and others. A former student of Bobby McFerrin, she teaches private lessons, workshops, and clinics for all ages. Ms. Menthol’s Worth the Wait CD was released in November 2005.

Marc Miller


Marc Miller moved to Austin in 2000 to obtain his Masters Degree in Jazz Performance at the University of Texas. He has performed with legendary jazz artists Phil Woods, Bob Brookmeyer, and many others. Marc currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Noé Mina


Noé Mina is a recent graduate of Oberlin College, where he received a Bachelors in Jazz Performance. Since returning to his native Austin, he has played with a variety of groups, including Interrobang, The Watters, Honey Tap, and his own quartet. More recently, he has relocated to Chicago, Illinois.

Larisa Montanaro


Larisa Montanaro earned a Doctorate in Voice Performance from the University of Texas. She teaches Early Childhood Music at the Armstrong School and has a private studio of about 25 students. Larisa fronts her own group, Larisa and the Raindoggs, and also performs with the Texas Early Music Project, the Schola Cantorum, and the UT New Music Ensemble.

Pat Murray


Pat Murray moved to New York at the age of eighteen to study with jazz legend Lew Soloff at the Manhattan School of Music. While in New York, he played lead trumpet in Dave Berger’s Jazz Orchestra behind players such as Wynton Marsalis and Jon Hendricks. Since his return to Texas, Mr. Murray has played with many area bands, including 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Beto y los Fairlanes, and the Creative Opportunity Orchestra. He has relocated to the Los Angeles area.

Mike Piccione


Mike Piccione moved to Austin in 2005 to earn a Masters Degree in Trumpet Performance from the University of Texas. He maintains a full and diverse schedule as a freelance performer in jazz, classical, pop, and variety styles, and teaches a full studio of private students.

Shane Pitsch


Shane Pitsch has performed with artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, The Drifters, Wayne Shorter, and Maria Schneider. He holds degrees from Eastern Illinois University and the University of Texas , and is currently completing his Doctor of Music Arts degree from the University of Illinois .

Russell Remington


Russell Remington is an alumnus of the famed University of North Texas 1:00 Lab Band, and has studied with Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, and Jerry Bergonzi. He has performed with Phish, Santana, John Medeski, and many others. He has also appeared on the Jay Leno Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and the Carson Daley Show.

Adrian Ruiz


Adrian Ruiz earned a Bachelor of Music Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1996 and a Master of Music in Composition from Texas State University in 2005. Prior to moving to Austin, Adrian performed actively and taught as a band director in the San Antonio area. He has performed with John Clayton, Gerry Gibbs, Jon Hendricks, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Miles, Butch Miles, James Moody, Maria Schneider, The Temptations, and Clark Terry. In Austin, he performs with Centerpeace, The Urban Achievers Brass Band, The Pictures, and The NightOwls. He recently completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.

Mike Sailors


Mike Sailors has appeared at venues such as the Blue Note (Tokyo, Sapporo and New York), Dizzy’s, The Jazz Standard, Yoshi’s, The Jazz Standard, The Jazz Kitchen, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, the Bowery Ballroom, Smalls as well as the Tokyo Blue Note Jazz Festival, the EFG London Jazz Festival, the Detroit Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Kevin Scott


Kevin Scott has toured with such artists as Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra, Cheryl Hunter, Willie Clayton, and Stevie Wonder. He was Musical Director for Sister Sledge and toured extensively with the musical theater production “Stop the Noise, Bring Back the Music.” Currently, Kevin is working with Pamela Hart and the Women in Jazz Series, Sauce the Band of Austin TX, The Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church Band, and the James Polk Trio. Kevin is a partner in Twink Records and Semaj Publishing.

Brian Shaw


Brian Shaw won the 2002 Downbeat Magazine award for Outstanding Extended Composition for jazz ensemble, and placed first in the International Trumpet Guild’s 2002 Solo Competition, 2001 Mock Orchestral Competition, and the 1998 National Trumpet Competition (jazz division). He currently resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he teaches music at LSU.

Jimmy Shortell


Jimmy Shortell is much in demand as a freelance trumpet player, having recorded twenty-five CD’s with such artists as Ruben Ramos, Townes Van Zandt, and Little Joe y la Familia. He plays in the Austin area with Los Jazz Vatos, the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, and many others.

Gary Slechta


Gary Slechta has served as a college band director for twenty-three years. Since coming to Austin in 1983, he has worked with the Austin Symphony, Capitol of Texas Brass Quintet, Beto y los Fairlanes, and many others. Mr. Slechta has also performed with many celebrities, including Doc Severinsen, Johnny Mathis, Joan Rivers, and Bob Newhart.

Julie Slim


Julie Slim has been performing in Austin since she arrived in 1996, first as an actress, earning an I. B. Payne Award nomination, and then as a world music vocalist with Bereket and her Arabic band, Layalina. After retiring from teaching elementary students, Julie founded the international jazz band RendezVous in 2013. Julie has released three albums and two singles, and is currently working on an album of original songs.

Suzi Stern


Suzi Stern has recorded and performed with Denny Zeitlin, Jay Anderson, Gene Ramey, Mitch Watkins, and many others. A former student of vocal master Bobby McFerrin, Ms. Stern-Luna has taught and performed jazz vocal techniques in Austin, New York, and Portland, Oregon. Doug Ramsey of Texas Monthly called her “the most polished scat singer in Texas “.

Brian Swartz


Brian is a diverse musician with a wide range of influences. He has appeared on multiple Grammy-nominated recordings, including The Dixie Chicks’ “Taking the Long Way”, which won 5 Grammy® Awards in February 2007.  Other artists with whom he has performed include Kelly Clarkson, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Rickie Lee Jones, and numerous others.  Brian studied for five years under renowned jazz trumpeter Bobby Shew. He relocated to LA in Spring 2022.

Brad Taylor


Brad Taylor has performed with Bo Diddley and Sam Moore in his over twenty-five years in the music industry. Locally, he has been a member of Round Trip, Native Sun, and the High Island Hepcats. He has also recorded with Terry Bowness, the Jazz Vatos, and the Brian Barber Trio.

Dan Torosian


Dan Torosian is the bandleader and arranger for the Magnificent Seven, and also works with the Austin Symphony, Copa Kings, and many others. Dan teaches at Austin School of Music and St. Edwards University.

John Vander Gheynst


John Vander Gheynst completed his Doctorate in Music at the University of Texas at Austin . He worked as a band director at middle and high schools in Georgia for five years. John relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he taught Jazz Studies at IUPUI. He recently returned to Austin and continues to arrange music for various ensembles.

Mitch Watkins


Mitch Watkins is one of the most in-demand musicians and producers in central Texas . He performs regularly with Lyle Lovett, Paul Glasse, John Fremgen, and many others. Mitch has recorded CD’s of his own music, as well as producing albums by such artists as Bob Schneider, Abra Moore, and Tina Lear. When not touring with Lyle Lovett, Mitch continues to play many engagements with his own band across the area.

Ron Westray


Ron Westray served as lead trombone for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in New York City, under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. Ron has worked with a veritable who’s who of great musicians, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Benny Carter, Roy Hargrove, Randy Brecker, Branford Marsalis, and many others. He is now a full-time Professor of Music at York University in Toronto, Ontario.

Marcus Wilcher


Marcus Wilcher recently earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts from UT Austin, where he studied jazz composition with John Mills. He works with James Polk’s Centerpeace, the Andre Hayward Quintet, and many others. His commissioned piece for the NY Youth Symphony was performed during their 2013 season.

Randy Zimmerman


Randy Zimmerman is a regular member of the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, the Austin Jazz Orchestra, Pinnacle Brass Quintet, and many others. A University of North Texas and UT graduate, he has over thirty years of performing and teaching experience.

In Memoriam

James Polk


James Polk first began his career in the music industry at the age of 13. During a ten-year stint on the West Coast, he was writer-arranger for Ray Charles, the Platters, and many others. He was nominated for two Grammy Awards for his work with Ray Charles. Dr. Polk has released several CDs on his Twink label, including Go With the Flow and When Evening Comes. He was 83 years old when he passed away in June of 2024. Dr. Polk’s passing leaves a large loss for Austin jazz musicians, many of whom have performed with and learned from the mentorship of “JP” for decades.

Robert Alexius

Tuba, Bass

Robert Alexius began his professional music career in New Orleans in 1951. Over the course of almost fifty years, he has played with such greats as Elvis Presley, Floyd Kramer, Boots Randolph, and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as eleven seasons with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. We were fortunate to have Bob on the AJW New Orleans season. He passed away in August 2019.

Marty Allen


Marty Allen performed with such jazz greats as Lionel Hampton, Pee Wee Ellis, and Bobby McFerrin. In his thirty-three years in the music industry, he worked all across America on projects as diverse as film scores, jazz festivals, and accompanist for the Pickle Family Circus. Marty moved to Austin in 1995 and worked with the Austin Jazz Workshop for four seasons before he passed away in February 2003. His loss is felt by all who worked with him, but his playing lives on in three Austin Jazz Workshop CD recordings.

Martin Banks


The legendary Martin Banks, who performed with Sun Ra, Dexter Gordon, Count Basie, Ray Charles, and many other music giants, worked with the Austin Jazz Workshop for our first three seasons (1994-1997). Born in Austin, he returned to take up residence here in 1988 and worked with Tina Marsh’s Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Slim Richey’s Dream Band, and numerous others. The entire music world felt the loss of Martin’s passing in August 2004.

Rich Harney


Rich Harney was a pianist and composer much in demand on the local jazz scene. He released a 1994 recording with Beth Ulman, titled “Aren’t We the Lucky Ones?” His compositions have been recorded by Marlena Shaw and Pam Hart, and he has performed with Carmen Bradford, Tony Campise, and Alex Coke. Tragically, Rich passed away suddenly in February 2020.

Tina Marsh


Tina Marsh was the founder of the Creative Opportunity Orchestra and Circle of Light, has performed in the US and Europe with guest artists Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, and Kenny Wheeler, among others. Ms. Marsh taught everything from elementary-school residencies to college-level masterclasses. She was a treasured member of the music community. Tina Marsh passed away in June 2009.

Photo of Horacio Rodriguez

Horacio Rodriguez


Horacio Rodriguez was a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has performed for almost thirty years in South America, Africa, Europe, and the United States. He has accompanied Oscar Peterson, Cootie Williams, Paul Gonsalves, and many other jazz greats. Mr. Rodriguez passed away in Argentina after returning home for family commitments.

Jim Spector

Bass, Vocals

Jim Spector performed professionally for over twenty-five years, with such notables as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, Mose Allison, and many others. A long-time friend and fixture on the Austin music scene, Jim passed away in December 2015.