Jazz Quintet

Steve Talaga Pianist, composer and arranger Steve Talaga has been composing and performing professionally for more than 30 years.  He is co-leader of “Mind’s Eye,” a jazz quartet with four compact discs to its credit, “Angst for the Spoiler,” “Seasons,” “Lucky Nine,” and “Children of the Glacier.”  Talaga has performed with “Mind’s Eye” at many venues and jazz festivals, including the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival in Michigan.  Music from “Seasons” has been featured on the nationally syndicated public radio program, “Jazz After Hours.”

Talaga has also released six compact discs under his own name:  “Mirage,” “Yin-Yang,” “Basement Alchemy” (which was chosen as best release of 2000 by Lazaro Vega at WBLV-FM), “Two Worlds,” “Contemplating the Heavens” (a companion to the poetry chapbook of the same title by Linda Nemec Foster), and, most recently, “Heartside Sketches” (a concert-length work for septet commissioned by MAJIC).  Talaga is also the pianist for many other small and large jazz ensembles and is featured on recordings with several of them, and he has appeared with the Grand Rapids Symphony.  He has performed with many jazz greats, including Kenny Wheeler, Terry Lynne Carrington, Paul Wertico, Wes Anderson, Marcus Printup, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Adam Nussbaum, Wycliffe Gordon, Ric Margitza, Bobby Shew, Maria Schneider, Marvin Stamm, Denis DiBlazio, Jon Faddis, Claudio Roditi, Johnny Bassett, Greg Abate, Walt Weiskopf, Phil Woods, and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.  Among the many composition commissions he has received are several from Hope College, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Linda Nemec Foster, Musical Arts for Justice in the Community (of Grand Rapids), and West Michigan’s Lakeshore Jazz Connection.

Talaga, who was named West Michigan Jazz Society’s “Jazz Musician of the Year” for 2008, is currently an adjunct professor of music at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches courses in jazz studies and music theory/composition.  He has also taught music at Grand Valley State University, Cornerstone University, and Grace Bible College.  Talaga has frequently been on the faculty at the Aquinas College Summer Jazz Camp and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Talaga received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Studies, Magna Cum Laude, and a Master of Music Degree in Composition from Western Michigan University.  He received a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from Central Michigan University.

In 2008, Talaga placed second in the Indie International Songwriting Contest, Instrumental Category.  He received honorable mention in the 1995 Billboard Magazine Song Writing Contest, Jazz Category.  As a student in 1993, Talaga won a Downbeat Magazine award in the jazz composition category.  He has won outstanding soloist awards from the Elmhurst, Aquinas, Ohio State University, and Notre Dame Jazz Festivals; and awards for jazz composition from the Notre Dame and Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festivals.  From 1982 – 1989, Talaga was a producer and on-air personality at CMU Public Radio in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Visit Steve Talaga’s website:  http://www.stevetalaga.com

And his myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/stevetalaga.

John Gist Born and raised in Grand Rapids, John Gist has definitely proven his superb talent. If you ever get to see him play, it is a sight worth watching. John’s talent always shines through no matter what style of music he plays including Jazz, Funk, Blues, R&B and Gospel. Being a Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophonist, John can make you want to get up and shake your “groove thing” when he’s blowin’ out some funky rhythms one minute. And in the blink of eye, he can send a shiver up your spine and make your bones want to melt with some of the soft, sultry notes he throws on his audience. John has played in many bands here in Michigan such as: The Shoes; Cameleon; Madhouse; Wardenhaus; Mary Roberts; Roberta Bradley & Gypsy (CD released in December ’98); Endanger Species; Junior Valentine & the All Stars. Johnny currently plays with the Lynn Thompson Band; The Steve Hilger Band; Christian Life Center Music Dept. (www.christianlifectr.org); Organissimo (www.organissimo.org) and La Famiglia

Tom Lockwood Tom is a bass/woodwind performer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He teaches at 3 colleges in the area as well. He has appeared in Mind’s Eye, Evidence, Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, New Orleans Nouveau, Kalamazoo Big Band, Steve Talaga, Edye Evans Hyde, Steve Sandner, Clifford Music Group, Terry Lower, The Steve Hilger Band and more. Tom lived in Boston and attended Berklee for two years, where he studied with, among others, Billy Thompson and the fantastic Bob Mover. He finished two degrees at Western Michigan University, where he studied with Trent Kynaston. He continued his musical education–playing professionally with some of the best musicians in the Midwest, as well as many nationally and internationally known artists including Bobby Watson, David Liebman, Richie Beirach, Red Rodney, Terry Gibbs, Jerry Gonzalez, Steve Wiest, Mike Vax, Roland Hanna, Frank Mantooth, Jon Faddis, John MacNeil, Robin Eubanks, Lew Tabackin, Peter Erskine, Clare Fischer, Greg Abate, Danny Heines, Jimmy Bruno/Jack Wilkins Quintet, Mark Elf, Christian Howes, Daniel Kelly, Andre Bush, Jenna Mammina, Dr. Paul Brewer, Trent Kynaston, Steve Zegree, Bob Ricci, Bruce Early, Paul Keller, Steve Talaga, Pete Siers, Randy Gelispie, Paul Vornhagen, Rick Margitza, Jason Palmer, Matt Brewer, Bill Dowdy (drummer-The Three Sounds), Steven Duke, Marcus Belgrave, Betty Joplin, Jim Cooper, Eddie Russ, Terry Lower, Craig Taborn, John Shea, Dick Reynolds, Sunny Wilkinson, Ramona Collins, Susan Chastain, Kathy Kosins, Claudia Schmidt, Steve Sandner, Peter Yellin, Freida Lee, Harvey Thompson, Ken Morgan, Randy Marsh, Quincy Davis, Shawn Wallace, Paul Finkbeiner, Gerald Cleaver, Cary Kocher, Doug Horn, Tony Viviano, Jeff Kressler, Rick Roe, Larry Nozero, Jeff Haas, Ron Getz, Eddie Calhoun, Dave Hay, Wycliffe Gordon, Mark Byerly, Edgar Struble, Edye Evans Hyde, La Famiglia (the one that’s based in GR, MI), Sean Dobbins, Kalamazoo (MI) Big Band, Bird Of Paradise Orchestra (Ann Arbor, MI), Tim Collins Big Band (Battle Creek, MI), Bruce Early Big Band, The Night Band (Grand Rapids, MI), Grand Rapids (MI) Jazz Orchestra, Truth in Jazz Orchestra (Muskegon, MI), Tom King and the Royal Chicagoans, 45th Parallel Big Band (Traverse City, MI), Russ Morgan Orchestra, Obscene Bird of the Night, Tony Barron Orchestra; Cab Calloway, Temptations, Four Tops, Natalie Cole, Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis, Nelson Riddle Orchestra; Grand Rapids (MI) Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet, West Shore (Muskegon, MI) Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Cadillac (MI) Area Symphony Orchestra, AFM Local 228 Concert Band (Kalamazoo, MI); and in theatre orchestras, including those of the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids Civic Theaters, Heritage Theater (Grand Rapids), Michigan Ensemble Theater (Traverse City, MI), Barn Theatre (Augusta, MI); and in pit orchestras for many touring Broadway productions. At Western Michigan University; Gold Company, Symphonic Bands, Symphony Orchestra; Jazz Orchestra/Jazz Lab Band, as performer or director, with concerts at the Montreux (Switzerland) International, Montreux/Detroit, Notre Dame, Aquinas (Grand Rapids, MI) College, and Elmhurst (IL) College jazz festivals. He has taught at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Aquinas College Jazz Camp, Birch Creek Music Center, Hillsdale College, and Western Michigan University. As a high school student, he attended Stan Kenton and Jamey Aebersold jazz clinics, and music camps at Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI) and the National Music Camp at Interlochen (MI).

Randy Marsh Randy comes from a musical family. His father, Arno Marsh, played tenor in Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, Stan Kenton’s big band, Lionel Hampton’s big band, Maynard Ferguson’s big band, and with musicians such as Buddy Rich and Sammy Davis Jr. among many, many others. And he is still a staple of the Las Vegas big band scene after over 50 years. But Randy credits his mother, Grand Rapids jazz singer Mary Lou Marsh, for giving him a deep love of music and especially jazz.

Randy has been drumming for almost 40 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, he is at the peak of his playing with organissimo, bringing fire and intensity as well as his trademark sense of humor. Like his hero Art Blakey, Randy’s drumming is truly one of kind.

Randy Marsh is known throughout the state of Michigan as the drummer of choice. His resume is distinguised and long but he has never rested on his well-deserved laurels. With organissimo, Randy has found another outlet for his experience, his endless creativity, and his positive spirituality.

Steve Hilger Steve Hilger has been a singer songwriter since the early 70’s and has played in and written for a variety of bands in genres including blues, jazz, rock and acoustic folk music. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and played a short stint in one of their jazz bands. He fronts The Steve Hilger Band, a progressive Blues band, which won five Jammie nominations for its 2008 release “Live in Eastown” and one Jammie nomination for Best Blues Album of the Year for its 2010 release “Want What You Have.” Steve writes and arranges all the original music for The Steve Hilger Band as well as the jazz quintet. In his earlier days, Steve played trumpet in a High School just outside of New York where he participated in jazz clinics with such musicians as Count Basie, Thad Jones, Doc Severnson, and others.

Deborah Richmond  Deborah Richmond was given the gift of a jazz-blues voice and joins the band as a special guest to delight audiences with her charm and style. She sings lead an back-up vocals for The Steve Hilger Band and has been recognized by local radio stations as a superb female blues vocalist.

Charlie Hoats    Over a lengthy professional career, Charlie Hoats has had the privilege of performing with Rick Margitza, Marvin Stamm, Gunnar Mossblad, Marcus Roberts, Denis DiBlasio, Gene Bertoncini, Phil Keaggy, Claudio Roditi, Chris Vadala, Jack Wilkins, Jimmy Bruno, Clay Jenkins, Kim Richmond, Christian Howes, Sunny Wilkinson, Ray Kaczinski, Danny Draher, The Butterfat Trio, Edye Evans Hyde, Melvin Rynes, Michael Brecker, and many others. Additional performance experience includes the National Touring Company of Grease; regional productions of Pump Boys and Dinettes, Ten November, Beehive, and other small- and large-scale musicals; and numerous performances with local and regional jazz, blues, and pop groups. Charlie was a founding member of the Michigan-based jamband/morphtet The Folk Lizards, and the sound of Charlie’s six-string fretless bass is widely recognized and sought after in the West Michigan area.

A member of the Hope College Jazz Studies Faculty since 1992, Charlie studied jazz improvisation with Dr. Robert F. Thompson and John Shea. His duties as Instructor of Jazz Bass at Hope College include teaching private lessons, coaching small ensembles, and performing with the Hope College Faculty Jazz Group.