This dynamic sextet, established in 2006, performs around the north-western United States. It comprises faculty members from the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, who have studied and worked with some of the top names in American jazz. Besides a repertoire of jazz standards, the ensemble plays a variety of numbers composed by its members, some of which appear on a recently released CD of original compositions and arrangements.
Vern Sielert – Trumpet
Vanessa Sielert – Saxophone
Alan Gemberling – Trombone
Kate Skinner – Piano
Dave Bjur – Bass
Daniel Bukvich – Drums
Vern Sielert is Associate Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at the University of Idaho. From 2001-2006 he was Director of Jazz Ensembles at the University of Washington, and he has also served on the faculties of Baylor University, Illinois State University and Millikin University. He holds BM degrees in jazz studies and music education from the University of North Texas, a MM degree in jazz studies from the University of North Texas and a DMA in trumpet performance from the University of Illinois.
Sielert has been a student of Jack Adams, Don Jacoby, Michael Ewald and Ray Sasaki. He has performed with artists Rosemary Clooney, Freddie Hubbard, The Spinners, The O’Jays, Bobby Shew, Don Lanphere, Gerald Wilson and Ralph Carmichael, and in such diverse settings as the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois Chamber Orchestra, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Walt Disney World.
Vern maintains an active performance schedule and can be heard on recent recordings by Kelly Wright, the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra and Phil Kelly’s Northwest Prevailing Winds. Vern is also an active clinician and adjudicator, appearing at schools and jazz festivals throughout the US. His jazz solo transcriptions have appeared regularly in the Journal of the International Trumpet Guild since 1998.
Vanessa Sielert is Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho. She has also served as professor of saxophone on the faculties of Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle Pacific University and the University of Southern Illinois. Vanessa received a Bachelor of Music in music education and saxophone performance from the University of Idaho, a Master of Music in saxophone performance from Baylor University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in saxophone performance from the University of Illinois. She has studied saxophone with Robert Miller, Michael Jacobson and Debra Richtmeyer.
Vanessa has performed with a wide range of performing groups including the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. As a member of the Millennium Saxophone Quartet, she was a medal winner at the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. She has performed as a soloist and quartet member at conferences of the North American Saxophone Alliance and at meetings of the World Saxophone Congress.
In 2006, she founded the Free Range Saxophone Quartet. Their first CD, Fireflies, was released on Origin Classical Records in 2011. As an advocate of new music, she has commissioned numerous compositions for saxophone, including a concerto by composer Kenneth Fuchs to be premiered in 2013. In addition to her performance schedule Vanessa is an active clinician and adjudicator throughout the northwest.
Alan Gemberling is Professor of Music at the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho in Moscow and is in his twenty-ninth year as professor of trombone and is currently Director of Bands.
His conducting responsibilities include the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band III and IV (a performing dance band) and the Hampton Trombone Ensemble. Mr. Gemberling is also responsible for courses in conducting and is involved with music education student preparation.
He is active throughout the Northwest and Canada as an adjudicator, clinician, performer and guest conductor in both classical and jazz styles. He has conducted at music festivals internationally in Jakarta, Indonesia; Bangkok, Thailand and Shanghai, China. He performs regularly on trombone and string bass in groups that include: the Idaho Brass Quintet, Spokane Symphony, Washington/Idaho Symphony, Walla Walla Symphony, Lionel Hampton New York Big Band, Bob Curnow Big Band, Jazz Co-Op Quartet, The Palouse Jazz Project and The Contenders (a classic rock ensemble). He has performed with the Dizzy Gillespie Tribute Big Band, Cab Calloway Orchestra, JZ All Star Big Band (Shanghai, China), Gene Krupa Orchestra, Frank Sinatra Jr., Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, Jon Hendricks, Bob Newhart, The Supremes, The Temptations, Frankie Avalon, Dee Daniels, Bill Watrous and Al Grey and in numerous touring Broadway show companies.
Kate Skinner maintains an active performing, composing and teaching career in the western United States. A native of Ogden, Utah, Skinner pulls influences from the bluegrass and classical roots of her childhood into both her songwriting and performing as a jazz musician. In her teenage and college years, Kate delved into R&B, funk, and hip hop, genres that also continually find their way into her musical explorations helping to create her own unique voice. Part of this unique voice is an obsession with alternative keyboard instruments and a study of the great keyboardists of jazz, rock and funk.
As a pianist, Skinner is in demand in a variety of performance styles and has performed with the Downbeat-award-winning jazz band from the University of Northern Colorado, Jazz Lab Band I among many other established large and small jazz ensembles. Her work as a vocalist has seen much success among a wide audience of listeners across genres. Kate’s compositions and playing have won multiple awards, including a Downbeat award for Outstanding Vocal Performance and a Jazz Education Network award for composition.
2014 saw the release of two new albums that Kate was highly involved in, one of which is a straight-ahead jazz quartet called Divergent, featuring her writing and performing. The second is Born to Wander, a bass-guitar-voice trio with Erik Applegate and Steve Kovalcheck. The group is founded in jazz and explores interpreting classic folk and rock tunes along with jazz standards. Kate believes that the pursuit of honest and creative projects is the lifeblood of any artist and she strives to continually push herself and widen her scope to new influences and excitements.
In addition to teaching in the jazz department at the University of Idaho, Skinner is currently a doctoral candidate in jazz studies at the University of Northern Colorado, studying orchestral conducting as a secondary area.
Dave Bjur is a professional bass player and teacher. His performing career began in 1977 when he joined the U.S. Air Force Band, playing a variety of styles while performing throughout the Western United States, Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. In 1988 Bjur toured for six months with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and in 1993 & 1994 he toured with the Paul Smith Trio in the “Tonight” with Steve Allen stage show. In 1993 Bjur began a four-year role as bassist with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. He recorded with the band on the CD Absolutely! on Lake Street Records and on “White Christmas” from John Pizzarelli’s Let’s Share Christmas RCA recording. With the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra Bjur also did two tours to Japan, including performances with Benny Carter and Diana Krall. While in Los Angeles he also worked as associate producer with Ray Brown for Ray’s Art of Playing the Bass video series.
Dave Bjur is currently teaching jazz bass at the University of Idaho in Moscow and Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston. He has additionally taught at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington and is currently in graduate school at the University of Idaho. His mentors were John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Ray Brown.
Daniel Bukvich has been a member of the faculty of the Lionel Hampton School of Music since 1978. Professor Bukvich holds the Master of Music degree in composition and arranging from the University of Idaho. Bukvich was born in 1954 in Butte, Montana, where he began composing while still in high school. His compositions and arrangements are performed world-wide by symphonic bands, wind ensembles, orchestral winds, choirs, jazz bands, symphony orchestras and marching bands. Bukvich resides in Moscow, Idaho, where he is Professor of Music at the Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho. He teaches percussion, freshman music theory and ear training, composition and jazz choirs. He performs regularly as a jazz drummer throughout the U.S. and Canada. See Daniel Bukvich’s web pages for further information.