Jazz Band Staff

Jazz Band Staff

Antonio J. García

Antonio J. García is a performer, composer/arranger, producer, clinician, educator, and author in both instrumental and vocal genres.

A Professor Emeritus and the former Director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, he has performed as trombonist, bass trombonist, or pianist with 70 major artists including Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Tormé, Billy Eckstine, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Dave Brubeck, and Phil Collins and in Canada, Europe, South Africa, Australia, The Middle East, and across the U.S. He was tenured at Northern Illinois, Northwestern, and VCU; received NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the VCU School of the Arts’ Faculty Award of Excellence; is a past nominee for CASE U.S. Professor of the Year, a member of the Conn-Selmer Institute Hall of Fame, and is a 2023 recipient of The Midwest Clinic’s Medal of Honor.

A Conn-Selmer clinician/soloist and avid scat-singer, Tony is the only individual to have directed all three genres of Illinois All-State jazz ensembles: combo, vocal jazz choir, and big band. Books include Cutting the Changes: Jazz Improvisation via Key Centers (Kjos Music) and Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading (Meredith Music). He currently resides in his native New Orleans.

Visit his web site at www.garciamusic.com

Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Beth Steele
Executive Director / Conductor

The Executive Director of Music at the Summit is Ms. Beth Steele, who is an experienced musician and conductor. Beth created Music at the Summit and is the driving force behind it's continued growth and improvement. She received her Bachelor of Music (Trumpet) degree and Master of Music (Wind Conducting) degree from Northwestern University in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Ms. Steele has performed on trumpet in many ensembles including: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; New Sousa Band; Virginia Symphony; and the British Imperial Military Band.

Beth served as a career US Army musician, where her duties included: Associate Director, US Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, Washington, DC; Conductor, Continental Army Band, Hampton, VA; Commandant, Army School of Music, Virginia Beach, VA; Conductor, US Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus, Washington, DC; and most recently as the Commander of the US Army Europe Band & Chorus in Heidelberg, Germany.

While in Europe, Beth developed enduring partnerships with European musicians and was awarded the German government’s highest peacetime award: The Silver Cross of Honor, the first for an American Director of Music. She also led the Band & Chorus in historic performances in Moscow’s Red Square, for Her Majesty the Queen in London, and in first-ever combined concerts with the National Serbian Defense orchestra.

Michael Kocour

Michael Kocour is a jazz pianist, a Hammond B3 organist and composer. He also serves as Director of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University.

An active performer for more than three decades, Kocour has appeared at venues around the world and has been a guest on Marian McPartland's internationally syndicated NPR program "Piano Jazz." Among the many artists and ensembles with whom he has appeared with are Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Lovano, Eddie Harris, James Moody, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan, Carl Fontana, Dewey Redman, Lew Tabackin, and the Chicago Symphony.

His recorded work as a studio musician includes soundtracks to two major motion pictures, and numerous television commercials. Kocour has also released five critically acclaimed CDs as a leader.

Alfred Music has published Kocour’s original compositions and arrangements for piano. His arrangements for jazz ensembles are available at ejazzlines.com.

“Michael Kocour, a brilliant pianist and composer. He plays with remarkable creativity and a technique to die for. Sparkling ideas fly from his fingers making harmonic sophistication the order of the day.” - Marian McPartland, November, 2007

Mark Wood

Mark Wood hails from Gainesville, Florida where he received an undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of Florida. He studied trumpet with Dr. Joyce Davis. He began graduate studies at the University of Kentucky where he studied trumpet performance with Vince DiMartino and concluded at Northern Illinois where he studied performance with Ron Modell and served as a Teaching Assistant, playing lead trumpet in the top jazz band and directing the second band.
In 1995, he joined US Army Field Band in Washington, D.C., where he shared solo cornet responsibilities and was a founding member of the Embassy Brass, which became the official brass quintet for the US Army Field Band. Embassy Brass performed hundreds of recitals at colleges and universities throughout the US, often providing clinics and chamber ensemble coaching.
In 2000, he transferred to the US Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Ceremonial Band. His duties there included performing in the Brass Band, the Herald Trumpets, the Brass Quintet and he began substituting in the US Army Blues, the official Jazz Ensemble of The Army Band. He was later selected as split-lead trumpet in the Army Blues, a position he held until his recent retirement in May 2021 after 26 years of active service in the US Army.
He has been an active freelance performer with the Harrisburg Symphony Pops, Richmond Symphony Pops, National Symphony Pops and Baltimore Symphony Pops. These playing opportunities and many others allowed him to share the stage with jazz legends like Doc Severinson, Slide Hampton, Peter Erskine, Jon Faddis, Wycliffe Gordon, Sean Jones, Terrell Stafford, Conrad Herwig, Manhattan Transfer and countless others.

Michael Brothers

Michael Brothers is Director of Jazz and Percussion Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University. He teaches Applied Percussion to undergraduate and graduate percussion majors, and courses in Percussion Methods, Percussion Pedagogy, Jazz History and Jazz Pedagogy. He is Director of the University Jazz Ensemble, the University Percussion Ensemble and the Spirit of the Southland Drumline.

A native of Oakland, California, his forty-plus year career as a drummer and percussionist spans a wide range of musical experience including performances with big bands, symphony orchestras, recording sessions and Broadway, including over 6,600 performances of the record-breaking Music Box Company tour of the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, the longest continually running Broadway tour in history.

Prior to his tenure at Phantom, he was the drummer or percussionist on several first national tours including City of Angels, Bye Bye Birdie (with Tommy Tune and
Ann Reinking), Starlight Express, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert (with Sarah Brightman), Les Misérables and Me and My Girl.

His extensive credits include performances with some of the world’s legendary entertainers such as Victor Borge, Peter Cetera, Dee Daniels, Christine Ebersole, Mitzi Gaynor, Marvin Hamlisch, Rupert Holmes, Robert Klein, Rachel Bay Jones, Gladys Knight, Liberace, Steve Lippia, The Marvalettes, Maureen McGovern,
Darmon Meader, Anthony Newley, Patti Page, Chita Rivera, Dinah Shore,
John Lloyd Young, and Mary Wells.

His albums Reunion and Three Times Two have received extensive airplay throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Michael is a Voting Member of The Recording Academy (GRAMMY® Awards) and Vic Firth artist. He holds degrees in Percussion Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (MM) and Loyola University New Orleans (BM).

Margaret Banton

Margaret Banton has performed as a freelance and military musician and served as a clinician for several decades. She started as a saxophonist and vocalist with the Army Ground Forces Band, Ft. McPherson, Georgia. In 1993, Margaret transferred to the Air National Guard (ANG), Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, where she retired in 2013. With the ANG band, she served as a saxophonist and vocalist and senior enlisted leader for the ANG Band of the South. Equally versatile in classical, jazz, rock and rhythm and blues (R&B) genres, Margaret has performed with several large and small ensembles in the Atlanta metro area and around the southeast, including performing as principal saxophonist with the Atlanta Wind Symphony and the Tara Winds. She also performed as saxophonist and vocalist with the Carollton Jazz Orchestra, Third Stream Big Band, the Atlanta 17, and Big Band Contractors. She actively performs with numerous groups and tribute bands throughout Central Florida, where she now resides.
Margaret pursued jazz studies at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Business/Industry from St. Catherine University and a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Central Michigan University. She is an active member of the Association of Concert Bands (ACB) and the Jazz Education Network (JEN). Margaret recently retired from a 30-year career as the Deputy Director for Human Capital Management with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and is certified as a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She lives in the Villages, Florida, where she is active with aqua fit, pickleball, and the bands of the Villages. Margaret continues to be an avid fan and student of jazz and R&B music.

John Madere

Double Bassist

A Bassist/Composer currently residing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He grew up in Gonzales, Louisiana and began his musical studies at the age of ten on the saxophone. At the age of 15, Madere started to play the electric bass and later began studying the double bass at the age of 17. Madere holds the Bachelor or Music Degree from Louisiana State University (2005), the Master of Music Degree (Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music) and the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree with a Minor in Jazz Studies from LSU (2011).

Madere maintains a busy schedule of freelance bass playing. He is equally at home in both the jazz and classical idioms and performs both styles frequently. Madere is currently principal bassist of the Baton Rouge Symphony, and has held this position since his return to Louisiana in 2007. Along with regular performances with the Baton Rouge Symphony, he has also performed with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Acadiana Symphony, and was formerly the principal bassist of the Louisiana Sinfonietta. He has appeared as a soloist with the Louisiana Sinfonietta and the Baton Rouge Symphony and is currently commissioning a new solo work to be performed with the Southeastern Louisiana University Symphony Orchestra.

Madere currently teaches in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s Gifted and Talented program where he teaches music fundamentals, theory, history and performance skills to children of all ages and instruments. He is and also a lecturer of double bass, instructor of music appreciation, and director of the University Lab Band at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. He also teaches Jazz Improvisation lessons to any interested students at Southeastern.

Madere released his album, "Chemistry,” in 2011. It contains seven original jazz compositions. The album features Madere along with LSU School of Music faculty Willis Delony and Brian Shaw as well as other LSU alumni. The CD was released on the Fora Sound label and is available on CD Baby and iTunes. He is currently working on an ambient music project that relies heavily on live looping and effects pedals. He plays the electric guitar, electric bass and various synthesizer and drum machines in this one-man show. For more information on this project and to hear Madere in action, please visit www.youtube.com/johnmadere.

Madere has studied with the following double bass, jazz or composition teachwww.youtube.com/therealjohnnymaders: Robert Nash, Yung-chiao Wei, Bill Grimes, Willis Delony, Albert Laszlo and Brian Shaw. He has performed with artists such as Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenowith, Branford Marsalis to name a few.

Darren Kramer

Darren Kramer is a professional trombonist, composer, educator, music producer and motivational speaker who has performed throughout the world as trombonist with diverse artists Matchbox Twenty, Garth Brooks, Marc Anthony, Tom Jones, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies with Mercer Ellington. Kramer is a prolific composer and producer having recorded six original CDs and has arranged over 400 songs which feature Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael Brecker and Jerry Hey. Kramer grew up in a musical family in Colorado, graduated from University of Miami, and is an XO Brass Artist and Ableton Certified Trainer who now creatively combines live acoustic instruments with innovative music technology. Kramer is the Instructor of Jazz Trombone at Colorado State University, and also shares his vast knowledge from 40 years of extensive performing and teaching experience via his 2023 TEDx Talk and online course "Trombonology", his ultramodern group ElektroHornz, as well as his music and wellness podcast Sonic Tonic Experience. https://elektrohornz.com/