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Ira B. Liss

Ever since the early 1970's, Ira was destined in life to be a band leader. A drum major/saxophonist at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego, California, he was voted most valuable band member his senior year. In the local, regional and national scenes, Ira acquired extensive experiences in all phases of the music and entertainment industry. From music management, retail/wholesale products, talent acquisition, concert production & promotion, to jazz education and recording production. Ira B. Liss, at 6 feet 7 inches tall, is Southern California's most imminently watchable bandleader of San Diego’s favorite Big Band: The Ira B

MUSICIAN Born:

Todd Gordon

Aged 44, Todd Gordon was a late arrival to the jazz scene but quickly established himself as “one of Britain’s most popular singers and entertainers” (Scottish Television). An avid Beatles fan until the age of 11, his musical horizons broadened when he heard Frank Sinatra's "Songs for Swingin' Lovers!" album. From that moment, he collected almost every recording by Ol' Blue Eyes whilst expanding his interest in jazz and swing, encompassing numerous other renowned singers and instrumentalists.

Further inspiration came in 1975 when he met Ella Fitzgerald prior to one of her shows. During her concert, she invited him on stage and sang "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" specially to him. Since then, Gordon has been fortunate enough to meet many more of his idols - including Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Count Basie, Woody Herman, George Shearing and Tony Bennett.

Chris Walden

Seven-time Grammy nominated German-born composer/arranger/conductor CHRIS WALDEN has scored more than 40 feature and TV films, and has written more than 1,500 orchestral and big band arrangements for artists including Michael Bublé, Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, SEAL, Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, and orchestras like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops. He has worked closely with producers David Foster, Tommy LiPuma, and Phil Ramone. He most recently served as lead arranger for the Academy Awards (Oscars®), he arranged for and conducted the Kennedy Center Honors and arranged the National Anthem for Jennifer Hudson's performance at the SUPER BOWL XLIII

MUSICIAN Born:

Sam Merrick

"Sam Merrick is a British singer of ever-growing repute. Having had the privilege of sharing the stage & performing with some of the top names in Jazz, he now performs across the UK, pleasing audiences far and wide with the likes of The Nick Ross Orchestra, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra & other projects on the London & UK Circuits."

Joel Baer

Joel Baer is an active performing and recording drummer in the Chicago area. Joel gained an interest in drums at an early age after watching his father Jeff play at church on a weekly basis. At the age of 11, he began formal instruction from drum educator Jack Brand in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Under Brand’s guidance, Joel developed his love for Jazz. This led to a B.M. in Jazz Studies from Elmhurst College and M.M. from DePaul University where he studied with Bob Rummage and Dana Hall. Joel co-leads the Blueshift Big Band in Chicago with guitarist Chris Parsons. With that ensemble, they’ve explored music in the tradition of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, as well as diverse influences like Chicago Blues and music from video games

Luke Carlsen

Having been a fan of jazz and big band music since childhood, Luke Carlsen naturally began singing in the genre very early. While still in college, his big band professor, Albert Alva, introduced him to legendary jazz singer, Barbara Morrison, at Steamers Jazz Club in Southern California. Morrison invited the young singer on the stage with her to sing “Fly Me to the Moon.” The crowd erupted with applause after his performance, and his career in jazz performance unfolded. In the spring of 2016, Carlsen and his band played a Frank Sinatra tribute at Barbara Morrison’s club for Jazz and Blues Month

WAYNE BRANCO

Wayne has lead several area bands over the past 30 years, including the Branco / Stamas Big Band, Itchy Feet and Eclipse. As a trombonist, Wayne has performed with internationally renowned jazz artists Arturo Sandoval, Bill Watrous, Jon Faddis, Bob Mintzer and Slide Hampton. Performance credits as an on-call sideman with vocalists and bands include Frankie Valli, Johnny Mathis, Rita Moreno, Al Martino, Jerry Vale, Robert Goule, The Drifters, The Shirrells, Harry James Orchestra with Fred Radke, Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians. His work with Boston area bands includes the Hal McIntyre Orchestra, Mike Girard's Big Swinging Thing, Baystate Jazz Quintet, Itchy Feet, the Worcester Jazz Orchestra, Artie Barsamian's Boston Big Band and Swingtet, The Ovations, Silver Bullet Swing Orchestra, Ryle's Jazz Orchestra, Everett Longstreth Orchestra, White Heat Swing Orchestra and Amanda Carr

MUSICIAN Born:

Dennis van aarssen

“The past year was complete madness. Everything in my life has changed, except my family and my girlfriend”, says Dennis van Aarssen, winner of The Voice of Holland 2019, looking back on the past year. From project manager at a digital marketing company to full-time singer with a debut album and a tour with 31 shows in the Dutch theaters. In a not so obvious genre; jazz. Or swing, as ‘crooner’ Dennis prefers to call it. The voice: Even though Dennis had a good job as a project manager, he never lost interest in music and singing. Music was always in the back of his mind. “It started to itch again

MUSICIAN Born:

Igor Kogan

Igor Kogan is a jazz artist, bassist, composer and bandleader. He has performed at prestigious venues and festivals in U.S., Canada and Europe, including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Steinway Hall (New York), Bern Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Toronto Music Festival (Canada), Red Sea Jazz Festival (Israel); and appeared at renowned jazz clubs Smalls, Zinc, Fat Cat (New York); Herb Alpert’s Vibrato, Blue Whale, Vitellos, The Lighthouse (Los Angeles) among other venues.

Born in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia, he started to play violin at age 7. He immigrated to Israel at the age of 15 where he simultaneously pursued his interest in music and science, and started to play bass and compose music


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