Our Board of Directors plays a crucial role in helping the AJW thrive in the community. Members and Officers include :
Herb Holland (Board Chair) is the founder of the Texas Community Music Festival, a semiannual event promoting the work of hundreds of area musicians. Other musical organizations he has managed and/or been affiliated with include the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and the Houston All-City Symphony Orchestra. Herb serves as a media consultant to political and corporate organizations across the United States, and remains active in community music as an organizer and a performer. He joined the AJW Board in June 2011.
Henry Rohlfs (Vice President) is the Director of Information Technologies for Halbert Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Outside of his professional life, Henry plays trumpet and has been a studio musician in California as well as performing with a variety of artists and groups around the Gulf Coast. As a former band and choral director in Sacramento, he appreciates the importance of music education and that instruction in the arts should be an integral part of a student’s curriculum. Henry joined the AJW board in April 2013.
Rosita Bradham (Secretary) is currently 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 joined the AJW Board in July 2005.
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.
Tara Hall is Content Manager of Property Listings at Turnkey Vacation Rentals, and served formerly as the Senior Editor at OutboundEngine, an Austin-based startup providing marketing automation for small businesses. She has been immersed in the Austin music scene since her arrival in 1996. Prior to OutboundEngine, Tara tackled music journalism on a national scale with LiveDaily and SoundSpike Media, where she covered tour news, interviewed chart-topping artists and reviewed live shows. Tara joined the AJW Board in September 2016.
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 manages the Westbank String Shop (founded by his father Dr. David Sloan), which has served the Austin orchestral community since 1995. Todd plays flute, cello, bass, and guitar. He joined the AJW Board in September 2016.
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 the AJW into Austin schools, and the Music Memory Program, which is now sponsored in Texas by UIL and taught in 14 states. Mollie joins the AJW Board in September 2017.
Elda Garcia is entering her 13th year of service as a Music Education Specialist with Austin ISD. Formerly, she served as the Artistic Director for Young Voices of Austin’s inaugural years, where she had the privilege to collaborate with the greater Austin community with her youth choir, community musicians, and other nonprofits. Elda has a wealth of experience in preparing youth choirs for school, city, and community performances, as well as mentoring student teachers. She continues to advocate for public education and collaborative work among music educators and community leaders.
Pam Zeigler (Emeritus) served for many years as the Music Specialist at Winn Elementary School. Winn Elementary was one of the Austin Jazz Workshop 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 (Emeritus) 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 the 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 and direct assistance as needed.
The AJW could not exist without the talents of our incredible musicians. Past and present performers include:
Robert Alexius (tuba, bass) 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 (piano) 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.
Paul Baker (saxophone, arranger) 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.
Martin Banks (trumpet), an Austin legend, has performed with the big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, James Brown, B.B. King, and Lionel Hampton, to name a few. He has been featured on the recordings of Ray Charles, King Curtis, Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Witherspoon, and more. The world lost a great talent when Martin Banks passed away in 2004.
Derrick Becker (trumpet) 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 (saxophone) 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 (drums) is 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 (voice) 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 (saxophone) 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 (guitar) 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.
Floyd Domino (piano) 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 (voice) 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 (drums) 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.
Shawn Ellison (piano) 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.
Kenny Felton (drums) 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 (trumpet) 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 (trombone) 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. A first-call trombonist in the Dallas area, Ken recently relocated to central Texas.
Mark Gonzales (trombone) 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 (bass) 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 (bass) 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 (trumpet) 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.
Rich Harney (piano) is 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.
Andre Hayward (trombone) has performed with Roy Hargrove, Betty Carter, Joe Williams, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, among many others.
Masumi Jones (drums) 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.
Mady Kaye (voice) has delighted Austin audiences for twenty 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 (drums), 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.
Tina Marsh (voice) 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.
Michael Melinger (woodwinds) has performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Sample of the Crusaders, Marty Ehrlich, and many others. He has a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas, and has performed and taught in Texas and Oregon for forty years. Michael founded the Austin Jazz Workshop project in 1994.
Freddie Mendoza (trombone), a San Antonio native, chaired the Jazz Studies Department at Southwest Texas University in San Marcos. Besides a long list of recording credits, he works 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 Menthol (voice) 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 (bass) 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 (trumpet) 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.
Larisa Montanaro (voice) 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 (trumpet) 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 (trumpet) 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 (trumpet) 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 .
James Polk (piano) has been in the music industry for forty years. During a ten-year stint on the West Coast, he was writer-arranger for Ray Charles, the Platters, and many others. He has been 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.
Russell Remington (saxophone) 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.
Glenn Rexach (guitar) has played with James Polk, Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Tomas Ramirez, Will Taylor, Elias Haslanger, and many others. He also fronts his own contemporary jazz group, the Glenn Rexach Group. Mr. Rexach teaches music at Austin Community College, and has appeared on numerous studio sessions. His latest CD, PanaRican, was released in 2016.
Horacio Rodriguez (bass) 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 to care for his mother.
Adrian Ruiz (trumpet) 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 (trumpet) 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 (drums) 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 (trumpet) 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 (trumpet) 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 (trumpet) 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 (voice) has fifteen years singing and acting experience in cabaret, theater, and film. Ms. Slim sings in French, Arabic, and Italian, and was a B. Iden Payne Award nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1996. She teaches drama, music, and broadcasting to elementary school children in the Round Rock school district.
Jim Spector (bass, vocals) 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.
Suzi Stern (voice) 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 “.
Michael Stevens (bass) 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.
Helen Sung (piano) has been the featured piano soloist with the Houston and Galveston Symphonies. She was the winner of the Mid-Texas Young Artists Competition, and has toured in Norway and Taiwan . After gaining her Masters in Music Performance at the University of Texas at Austin , she entered the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute. She currently resides in Boston and New York.
Brad Taylor (bass) 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.
Lee “Sparky” Thomason (trumpet) 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.
Dan Torosian (saxophone) 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 (trumpet) 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 (guitar) 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, 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 (trombone) 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 (woodwinds) 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 (trombone) 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.