Group Bios

 

Corren Hileman

Lead Trumpet and Bandleader

Corren began, like most trumpet players, saying to his parents, “I want to play the loudest instrument.” After completing high school in Paso Robles, California, Corren joined the Army in the mid-60’s and wound up playing in the 30th Army Band in Germany. After discharge, life happened. He married Ronna, worked as a middle school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and Monterey, California and stopped playing for almost 20 years during the 70’s and 80’s.

He picked up the horn again in 1990 and played with the Monterey Peninsula College Jazz Band. Later he joined the Del Monte Express, a Big Band in the Monterey, California area. In 1998, he founded the SRO Big Band, 15 musicians and two singers. In 2007, he and his wife Ronna, retired from their professional careers, moved to Oregon and bought a B & B in Ashland. In the Spring of 2008, he began playing with the Rogue Community College Big Band. During that time he met many outstanding musicians in the Rogue Valley. In April 2008 he created SOJO.

 

 

Hileman

 

 

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Rich Agee

Trumpet III

Richard’s early exposure to music was listening to the bass from the jukebox in the bar beneath his grandma’s second floor apartment in Hayward, California. He spent several of his summers there. When it came time to join the school band at age 11 he and his parents tried to rent a bass. Sadly, they were told they had only enough money for a trumpet. So a trumpet it was.

As an adult, Richard played in several groups in the San Francisco, East Bay and the Sacramento-Sierra region of Northern California. Some of his musical highlights, for which he is thankful, are to have had the opportunity of performing with Stu Blumberg, Jon Faddis, Stan Mark, Mike Vax, and Louis Belson.Richard is no stranger to playing all kinds of music. After moving to Southern Oregon in 1993, he played in the Rogue Valley Wind Ensemble, the Ashland City Band, the Rogue Valley Symphony, and the Jefferson State Jazz Orchestra. He is currently playing lead trumpet with the RCC Jazz Band and in the trumpet section of the Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra.

 

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Charlie Moresi

Trumpet II

Charlie was inspired to play the trumpet in the second grade by one of the older kids who took out his cornet and played ”America the Beautiful” on the playground after school. He started on trumpet in the 5th grade band and played through high school in Redwood City, California. He played in every group he could, but particularly liked jazz music.

After high school he played in the jazz and symphonic bands at the College of San Mateo for two years and then continued at San Jose State University. After two years, he received his BA degree and teaching certificate. Later on in the middle of his career he picked up a Master’s Degree in music education from the University of Oregon. He taught a total of 32 years in the Klamath Falls Public Schools. His Klamath Union High School Symphonic band won two Oregon State titles and his jazz bands have been winners in Reno and Portland.  Charlie retired in 2008.

He has continued to play trumpet in many different venues. Still living in Klamath Falls, he presently substitute teaches (band only) and teaches private brass students. Charlie has two grown children with his wife of 40 years, Eileen. Currently Charlie plays the jazz trumpet chair in SOJO.

 

 

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Tim Kasdorf

Trombone I

Tim began playing his first trombone in 1969 at age 10. In high school, in Ionia, Michigan, his parents bought him a Conn 73H Bass Trombone which he used in his school’s jazz and symphonic bands. High school jazz band was Tim’s favorite class, allowing him to put his bass trombone to good use. His teacher, Andy McFarland, stressed playing a chart the way the masters played it, playing recordings of chart, playing it down once, finally working individual sections until they were perfect. Through Mr. McFarland, Tim learned from the likes of Don Ellis, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Sammy Nestico and Count Basie, to name a few.

Post high school Tim has played in community college Jazz and concerts bands wherever he has lived. He calls the Rogue Valley his home and has had the pleasure of playing in many small community groups. He is currently playing trombone with the Rogue Community College Jazz band and the Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra. His “weapon” of choice these days is a 1959 King 2b Silversonic. Tim currently lives in Grants Pass with his wife Marla, and son Nathan, both musicians.

Charlie Ter Bush

Trombone III

Charlie started playing trombone at the age of 10 after wearing out some Tommy Dorsey records from the Grove City, Ohio public library. During his high school years in Grove City and later in Elmhurst, Illinois, Charlie played in concert band, jazz band and orchestra, as well as the Elmhurst Symphony. He played primarily bass trombone after he found a lovely Conn 72H in the Grove City band.

In college at Ohio State University in Columbus, Charlie initially majored in music but switched to Social Studies Education, a change which eventually led him to law school at the University of Illinois. At Ohio State, Charlie played bass trombone in concert bands, the brass choir and the jazz ensemble.

After graduating from Ohio State, Charlie put down the horn for ten years as he made his way through law school and into the world of work. He started playing again around Chicago with several community and semi-professional groups, including the Highland Park Symphonic Winds, Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra, and the Buffalo Grove Symphonic and Jazz Bands. Since retiring to Ashland in 2014, he has played not only with Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra but also with the Southern Oregon Concert Band and the Ashland City Band.

 

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Eric McKee

Trombone III

Eric began playing trombone at age 11 but did not start playing seriously until high school. While attending high school in South Bend, Indiana, Eric played not only with the school bands but also with the college jazz band and wind ensemble at the South Bend branch campus of Indiana University. Upon graduating, he attended college at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana., This prestigious music school offered an extensive and varied playing experience including jazz bands, wind ensembles, orchestras, and small ensembles of all kinds. Eric graduated from IU in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and Liberal Arts.

After college he moved back to South Bend to start a career in the music industry working for Woodwind and Brasswind, a large musical instrument retailer and e-commerce business.  At the same time he played extensively with many local groups, including The Jazz Assemblage, Truth In Jazz, the Elkhart Municipal Band, The Laporte Symphony, and the Elkhart Symphony. In 2007, Musician’s Friend (headquartered in Medford)purchased Woodwind and Brasswind. This lead to Eric relocating to Medford in 2009. Eric later changed careers and is now beginning to perform again, joining the Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra in October of 2012.

 

Jeremy Durst

Alto Sax II

Jeremy Durst began playing trombone in 6th Grade at Jacksonville Elementary School. By high school, he was active band student playing in Jazz band and Wind Ensemble at South Medford High School. Jeremy played in several bands outside of school including Gabriel and the Technicians, and a start up project entitled Humanzee.

He attended the University of Oregon for two years as a Jazz Studies major but in need of a change, transferred to Western Kentucky University to pursue a Music Education degree. The Wind Ensemble, the “Big Red Marching Band,” and the Jazz Ensemble were school musical groups he performed with. In 2009 he completed his degree and was hired that fall as the Director of Bands at Eagle Point High School in Eagle Point, Oregon. This up-coming school year will be Jeremy’s sixth year as Eagle Point High School’s band director.

He currently lives in Medford with his wife and two Labrador retrievers. SOJO is fortunate to have Jeremy as one of its outstanding musicians.

 

 

 JDurst

 

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Brendan Girard

Tenor Sax II

Brendan was first exposed to music in elementary school when his mother brought home an old, used piano. He would listen to music and run to the piano to play the melody by ear. Later, still a youngster, he took piano lessons but switched to the saxophone in junior high school. The family moved to Ohio and he found that he needed an instrument that he could carry back and forth to school.

Brendan has been playing music on and off for most of his life. He welcomes the opportunity to play in a group that helps inspire him to keep his chops in shape. As a father of a one year old and a three year old, it would be easy to let go music for a long stretch. His hope is to play through this and come out of fatherhood a better musician than before.

Brendan has been influenced by many individuals and groups. They include, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Bach, and Mozart. Current groups include: Phish, Dave Mathews, Mumford & Sons.

 

Marla Kasdorf

Baritone Sax

Marla’s first exposure to music came early. There was always music around her house. Her parents played LP’s of Broadway tunes and Nat King Cole as she remembers. Then came her chance to play. She started, as most good musicians do, in elementary school and played through high school. She played in concert band, jazz band, orchestra, and choir.

She received a BA in music from New York University and an MM from Eastman School of Music. After a lapse of 10 years from 1988 to 1998, she returned to music playing in the Eugene Symphony, the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Rogue Musical Theater, and the Rogue Opera. She currently plays in the above musical ensembles and SOJO. Marla is married to Tim Kasdorf who plays trombone in SOJO.

 

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Larry Newcomb

Guitar

Larry began playing clarinet at the age of 10 in the public school system continuing through his first year at Cal State University, Hayward. During this time, he picked up other instruments as the need arose. For instance, he played bass trombone for 2 years to get into the school jazz band and he played guitar for the girls,of course. After high school, Larry played in a series of funk bands until he married and started a family.

His first real exposure to jazz came through the Sonny Rollins recording of “The Bridge”, a tune that still knocks him out. Larry lists his major influences as Sidney Bechet, Johhny Dodds, Dr. Michael White, and Aurora Neeland, the New Orleans sound. After a 17 year break, he received a clarinet for Father’s Day, and resumed his study, this time adding saxophone. Playing sax, Larry found more doors opening to him.

A need for a change brought him to the Rogue Valley, where he has found a supportive music community. In addition to playing in SOJO, Larry is a founding member of the Bathtub Gin Serenanders, a local group playing music of the 20’s and 30’s. He has also played with The Southern Oregon Concert Band, The Rogue Valley Symphonic Band, and the Ashland City Band.

 

Frank Kinney

Tenor Sax

After graduating with a master’s degree in music from the University of Montana, Frank taught in Montana and Oregon for over 40 years. He developed many outstanding band programs in Missoula, Montana, and in Ashland, Eugene, and Albany Oregon. Frank is an original member of the Emerald City Jazz Kings out of Eugene.

He has played with Natalie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Harry James, and many others. He and his wife Julie, live in the Applegate Valley where they grow pinot noir grapes for themselves and giant pumpkins for their grandchildren. An outstanding soloist, we are fortunate to have him as one of the members of SOJO.

 

 Frank Kinney

 

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Hal Davis

Drummer

Hal is lovin’ being in the drum chair for the Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra! He is also currently Principal Percussionist in the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra, (26 years), Principal Timpanist in the Jefferson Baroque Orchestra, (8 years).

He teaches private drum/percussion lessons in his home studio, and occasionally coaches local school percussion sections. While still in high school, he performed with the Riverside, California Symphony Orchestra, subbed with the Redlands and San Bernardino Symphony Orchestras both in California.

Hal completed a tour of duty with the Air Force Bands of the West and Midwest, then attended college with a major in Music Education. During that time he played various gigs from rock and roll to jazz. Since moving to the Rogue Valley, he has played with cover bands, jazz combos, the Jefferson State Jazz Orchestra, Leslie Kendall and the Jump Daddies and now SOJO. He has also been very active playing drums in many Cabaret Theater shows. We are very lucky to have Hal Davis as one of us.

David Miller

Bass

Dave began to play the bass in his father’s territory band in South Dakota. Dad could never keep good bass players, so he drafted his 4 sons to play for him, starting them in junior high, and passing the job onto the next brother when they left home. To his chagrin, they all went into music professionally after high school.

Dave has played bass in symphony orchestras, chamber music groups, orchestra pits, operas, musicals, bebop groups, progressive jazz groups, avant garde music ensembles, and baroque period ensembles.

Big band jazz is one of his favorite forms of music to perform, not only because of the size of the sound, but as he says,”It is the most danceable music ever invented.” It is a privilege to have Dave as a member of SOJO.

 

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Alan Berman

Vocalist, Piano

Education: B.A. in Drama, S.F. State

Musician/ Entertainer career:

Alan’s cabaret theater work in S.F. led to solo engagements (guitar and vocal) at the once famous Purple Onion. This exposure brought the opportunity to sing and tour with vocal groups, The Cables, and later, The Other Three, working on the Playboy Club circuit and in other show clubs around the country. He had a 3-year stint with “Cornucopia”, a jazz-rock group featuring original tunes brought more focus on the keyboard.

The 7-8 years of solo work, piano, guitar, and vocal, brought Alan to Monterey, where he settled, found mentors in piano and voice, and played regularly with inspiring jazz musicians. The Monterey/Carmel area eventually provided him a musical livelihood without travel, the opportunity to meet Corren Hileman, and play with the S.R.O. big band, whose book became the starting point of S.O.J.O.

Dianne Strong-Summerhays

Vocalist

Dianne has been singing since she was a teenager growing up in Southern Oregon. Her musical roots began with a cappella Gospel with her sisters and in community theater. As a teenager, she toured Europe with a youth orchestra.

Dianne later returned from the UK and finally settled in Southern Oregon. She has become a popular local performer, appearing at many local venues with SOJO, Blue Lightning, The After Burners and several other groups.

With a 2.5 octave range, her style is strong, smooth, and controlled like the best big band singers of the 40’s. But it’s the joy she expresses in song that makes her performances memorable. She says, “The biggest thrill I’ve had as a singer is to be backed by that big band sound”.

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Bob Rawlings

Alto II

Bob grew up in Pueblo, Colorado and showed interest in music at a young age. While in grade school, he chose the snare drum and was pretty good at learning his rudiments and paradiddles, but didn’t get along with his teacher. He flunked out of elementary school band but his mother encouraged him to take up music again in middle school. She wanted him to play the saxophone. He wanted to play the trombone. He is forever grateful that he took his mother’s advice and chose the saxophone.

Bob spent his high school summers at various musical camps including University of the Pacific, Eastman College of Music and the famous Interlochen Music camp in Michigan. After graduating high school, Bob attended the University of Colorado at Denver where he eventually dropped out and concentrated on playing jazz around town. After a few years, Bob decided it was time to finish up his schooling so he moved to Boston and enrolled at Berklee School of Music. He became a founding member of the world famous Either/Orchestra. In the late 1980s, Bob moved to San Francisco with his college sweetheart, got married, and immediately became a full-time touring musician.

In 2000, Bob and his wife, Amy, had a daughter so he quit touring but continued playing in numerous local bands while increasing his teaching load. After his wife retired in 2014, Bob and family packed up and moved to Ashland.

Notable people that Bob has worked with include: Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Wilfredo Vargas, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, Dizzy Gillespie, and Richie Cole.

Bob can be seen around town at local wineries playing double bass and singing with the band Savana, or solo piano, and of course playing the sax section of SOJO.

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2 comments

  1. Hi, I have a 14 year old daughter in love with Jazz music. She plays trombone for the Jazz band at Hedrick middle school. Is there anywhere you play that I could bring her? To listen? Please let me know. Sincerely Wendy Hahn

    1. Hi Wendy, sorry for the delayed response! We are currently playing on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Grape Street Bar and Grill in Medford. They allow minors until 8pm. Our shows start at 7pm. Come early for dinner and stay for the first set, we’d love to meet you and your daughter. We have some amazing players in the group!

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