Trumpet player, composer, and educator Jason Waltony Berg had the fortune early on to hear great jazz music both live and on record. His interest in jazz first sparked when he picked up the trumpet in fourth grade and was set ablaze after hearing a group of talented young jazz musicians that included the pianist Brad Meldau, who was then in high school. He soon began to investigate his mother’s music collection that included several records by Billie Holliday backed by Lester Young on the tenor saxophone and Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet. His desire to hear more great music led him to the local library which was well stocked with recordings by great musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. This is what began Mr. Berg’s life-long love affair with jazz.
Growing up in Hartford, CT gave Mr. Berg access to some very fine musicians including the late, great Jackie McLean. He was a student at McLean’s Artists’ Collective for three years while in high school and there he studied and performed with several of the most exciting musicians on the jazz scene today including trombonist Steve Davis and saxophonist Jimmy Greene.
Mr. Berg went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ where he studied classical trumpet with Peter Bond of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, jazz improvisation with the guitarist Ted Dunbar and composition with pianist Kenny Barron. While there, he also assisted jazz organist and educator Radam Schwartz with the Jazz Institute of New Brunswick and played with the cooperative jazz quartet, Positive Rhythmic Force (PRF), which he co-founded and co-led. In 1998, Mr. Berg won the International Trumpet Guild’s Jazz Improvisation Competition. He received the Bachelor’s of Music degree from Rutgers in 1998 and the Master’s of Music degree in 2000. During this time, Mr. Berg recorded two independent CDs with PRF (the eponymous “PRF” and “The Question Is”) and wrote a large amount of original music including a piece based on choreography by Maia Claire Garrison and another to accompany a Rutgers University production of Anna Devere Smith’s “Fires in the Mirror.”
After graduation, Mr. Berg freelanced around the New York Metropolitan area and taught jazz improvisation, theory, and instrumental music at the William Brown Academy in Newark, NJ and as part of the Montclair State University Preparatory Division. Looking for a change of pace, he joined the U.S. Army Band and spent time playing music in Hampton Roads, VA and eventually, Lawton, OK. While with the 77th Army Band based out of Ft. Sill, OK, Berg played over four hundred services in various locations including Arkansas, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
Having served his time in the active duty military, Mr. Berg took the job as Director of Bands at Oklahoma Panhandle State University where he taught from 2005 to 2007. At the end of 2005, he went into the studio and recorded his solo CD, “Letter Back Home.” The track “Da Banks” from this album was included in the International Trumpet Guild’s 2009 compilation, “The Roads They’ve Taken.”
Mr. Berg has been on the faculty of Texas Tech University since 2007 teaching jazz history, jazz improvisation, and directing various jazz ensembles. He is scheduled to graduate from Texas Tech with his Ph.D. in Fine Arts with a major in music composition in May of 2010. Over the past three years at Tech, Mr. Berg has focused his energy on composition and completed several major works, including a song cycle for trumpet, piano and soprano based on poems by Dr. Daisaku Ikeda entitled “Universal Language.” Dr. Brian Chin commissioned this piece and recorded it for the Origin Classical label.
Daniel Bukvich was born and raised in Montana, U.S.A., and has taught at the University of Idaho since 1976. He travels throughout the United States and Canada as a guest composer, conductor, and percussionist in concerts with professional, college, high school, and grade school bands, orchestras, choirs, honor and all-state groups and has been known to appear at similar events in Europe and East Asia.
His teachers have been among the leading composers, conductors, and educators in the Western United States, and Bukvich has absorbed not only their philosophies on music but also their satisfaction with, if not complete desire for, professional and personal obscurity. Dan’s musical compositions and arrangements are performed by orchestras, choirs, bands, soloists, chamber groups and jazz groups around the world.
As a trumpeter, composer and arranger, Edward Castro has made it his mission in life to educate, entertain and inform through music. Born New York City, Ed picked up the trumpet in junior high school and has never looked back. His formative music training started in marching bands and drum and bugle corps. While attending LaGuardia High School Ed was exposed to various forms of classical and jazz music. It was during this time after spending countless hours at the New York City Public Library where he began his eclectic interest in music. A fan of modern and early classical music, Ed finds himself caught between influences and genres. As well as having a deep interest in jazz and various forms of popular music especially hip-hop, R & B and alternative music, he uses his love for all these styles of music as influence for his compositions.
Jim Knapp, director of the Jim Knapp Orchestra, trumpet player, composer, and teacher was born in Chicago, received BA and MA degrees in Music Composition from the University of Illinois, and lives in Seattle. He has served as director of The Composers and Improvisors Orchestra and has led various small jazz groups such as “Ohio Howie and the Temple of Boom”, “Looser Futures” and “The J-Word”.
After developing the Jazz Program at Cornish College, he continues to teach there with the academic rank of professor. The list of courses taught at Cornish include 16th Century Counterpoint, Improvisation, Composition, Arranging, Jazz Theory II, Composition Seminar (string quartets), Standards, Jazz Orchestra, Ensembles, Rhythm, Sight-reading and Trumpet.
Jim has received a National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Composition Fellowship”, a Seattle Arts Commission “Individual Artist Music Composition” grant, a “Special Projects Music Composition” award from the King County Arts Commission, and support from Meet the Composer and Artist Trust. In November 2006, he was honored by Cornish College of the Arts for “35 Years of Jazz”. In 2007, he was inducted into the Earshot Hall of Fame and in 2010 received the “Certificate of Excellence in Teaching” for 2009-2010 from Cornish College of the Arts.
He has recorded as a composer and/or performer on the ECM, A-Records, Origin, Pony Boy, Seabreeze, Flying Fish, Catalyst, and Mode record labels.
The Jim Knapp Orchestra won the Earshot “Best Acoustic Jazz Group” award in 1995 and its CD, Things For Now, received the Earshot “Jazz Record Of The Year” award in 1999.
The ensemble is represented on three CD’s: Things for Now on A-Records (AL73180), On Going Home on Seabreeze (SB2078) and Secular Breathing on Origin (82412).
Jim Knapp is the composer for Scrape a string orchestra including harp and guitar that features original compositions and improvisation. Guest composers for the group have included Bill Frissel, Eyvind Kang and Brendon Williams. The orchestra has recorded “Approaching Vyones” for the Origin label
Jim Knapp’s music has been recorded on CD’s by The Jazz Members Big Band, Jay Clayton, Kelly Johnson, Mark Taylor and Steve Treseler and has been performed by the University of Illinois Jazz Band, Toronto Jazz Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the Arizona State University big band, the Hochschule Der Kunst big band in Berlin, the prize-winning Roosevelt High School and Mountlake Terrace big bands in the Seattle area.