Mobile Big Band Society Musicians

                                  Gulf Coast Musicians that contribute to the Mobile Big Band Society

Chip Herrington: Trumpet, Mobile Big Band Music Director & Board Vice President

Chip wailing at the USS Alabama. Photo courtesy Southern Rambler

Chip wailing at the USS Alabama. Photo courtesy Southern Rambler

INSTRUMENTS:

  • Trumpet (1968 Bach Stradivarius Model 25 (Elkhart), silver plated brass.
  • 1960 Olds Super (Fullerton), lacquered brass.
  • 1966 Olds Recording (Fullerton), raw brass.
  • Harmonicas (Hohner Golden Melody).

Education:

  • Columbia High School, Class of 1981, Columbia, MS.
  • University of Southern Mississippi, Bachelor’s of Music Education (BME), 1985.
  • University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), School of Law, Juris Doctorate (JD), 1990.

MUSIC EDUCATION:

“My parents, Ronnie and Loucinda Herrington,  were my greatest musical influences.  First music teacher was my mother (a choral/theater director and vocal instructor), who gave me piano lessons.

I started trumpet in beginner band in 5th grade with my father, as my band director (he remained my band director through 12th grade).  Played in high school marching band (loved every minute of it) and continued on the play in the USM “Pride of Mississippi” Marching Band under Direction of Kelly Love.

My first formal trumpet lessons were with Norbert Carnovale at USM when I was in 9th grade.  Later studied with Mike Tunnell and Allen Cox while I attended USM.  Played in the USM Jazz Lab Band under Raoul Jerome from ’81 through ’85.”

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY:

“Commissioned as 2nd LT in USAF in August 1985.  Served two years active duty.  Moved to Mobile. AL in 1987 to accept position as Assistant High School Band Director (Vigor HS) 1987, then worked at USS Alabama Battleship Park for approximately a year, prior to attending law school at Ole Miss.  During this time, I was hired to play lead trumpet in The Bob Shultz Band.

After law school, I returned to Mobile in 1991 (thanks to my friend, and current MBBS alto sax player, Bill Steele) to work in the Mobile County DA’s office. In 1993, I opened my own law office and have continued my general law practice to the present day.  I have, continuously, since first coming to Mobile in 1987, played my trumpet professionally at every opportunity.”

MILITARY SERVICE:  U.S. Air Force

FAVORITE MUSIC:

“I love pretty much all jazz music, including the swing era big bands and all the bebop greats.  I also love the incredible R&B and Funk horn bands from the 60s and 70s.  Favorites vary, but… Glenn Miller, Al Hirt, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, Stan Kenton, Oscar Peterson, Steely Dan, Tower of Power, Average White Band, Earth Wind and Fire, GRP All-Stars.”

 

NAMES OF GROUPS YOU’VE PERFORMED WITH:

  • Columbia High School Band 1977-1981
  • Mississippi Lions All-State Band 1980-1981
  • USM “Pride of Mississippi” Marching Band 1981-1985
  • USM Jazz-LAB Band (“Raoul’s Growls”) 1981-1985
  • Disney/EPCOT All-American College Band 1982
  • Mobile Symphonic Pops 1987-2007
  • Bob Schultz Band
  • Clear Vision Band
  • Ringling Bros. Circus
  • Hurricane Horns
  • New Orleans Levee Band (with Hurricane Horns)
  • Felix Cavaliere and The Rascals (with Hurricane Horns)
  • Wet Willie (with Hurricane Horns) 1995-2009
  • The Beat Daddys (with Hurricane Horns)
  • Jimmy Maxwell Band
  • Guy Lombardo Band
  • Dan Mcmillion Band
  • Rochelle Harper Band

PLAYED WITH ANYBODY FAMOUS?

  • Danny Kaye
  • Lou Rawls
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Felix Cavaliere and the Rascals
  • The Buckinghams
  • Lorna Luft
  • Jimmy Hall
  • Mark Farner
  • The Temptations
  • The OJs
  • The Four Tops
  • Mitch Ryder
  • Cub Coda
  • Don Menza
  • Bill Waltrous
  • Rob McConnell

TOP FIVE BEST GIGS OF YOUR LIFE:

  • New Orleans Levee Band, House of Blues, NOLA, 1995
  • Wet Willie, House of Blues, Myrtle Beach SC, 1999
  • Lou Rawls, Mobile Riverview Plaza, 1993
  • Wet Willie, Tipatina’s, NOLA, 1998
  • Mobile Big Band Society, Valentines Concert, USS Battleship Alabama

WORST GIG:

  • Cole Brothers Circus 1991 (with Donald Morris on Trumpet … don’t ask)

ARE YOU ON ANY RECORDS OR CD’S?

  • “High Humidity”-Wet Willie Live at Tipatina’s
  • “Not Slowing Down”-Eric Erdman
  • “Never Too Late”-Donna Hall
  • “Play!”- Tom Reipl

Chip Tom Riepl album coverChip Eric Erdman album coverChip Donna Hall album cover

AWARDS:

  • Nominee: Mobile’s Best Jazz Musician 2015, 2016 – Lagniappe Nappie

OTHER PERFORMANCE EXPERIENCE:

“I was a bugler in the Air Force and still perform funeral and memorial services as a bugler for veteran’s groups.”

“I’m also a harmonica player and, in addition to the horn parts, I did the harp solos on the Wet Willie Band’s album, “HIGH HUMIDITY – Live at Tipatina’s”

Playing harmonica with Wet Willie and Donna Hall, live at Tipitina's.

Playing harmonica with Wet Willie and Donna Hall, live at Tipitina’s.

Doug Breau: Vocalist

doug

John King: Trumpet

John King

John’s credits include:

  • The Four Topps
  • The Temptations
  • Al Jarreau
  • Tony Bennett
  • Henry Mancini
  • Engelbert Humperdinck
  • Kenny Rogers
  • B.B. King
  • Tom Jones
  • Frankie Valli
  • Frankie Avalon
  • Johnny Mathis
  • Little Richard
  • Little Anthony
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Fabian
  • The Coasters
  • Red Skelton
  • Barbara Mandrell
  • Dave Stahl
  • and many others. 

He has played in various big bands for the last 40 years along with numerous latin bands for 15 years. He enjoyed playing in a blues band for 14 years as well. It is not uncommon to find John in the pit of your favorite musical or in your church balcony playing the bride down the isle at weddings. John is no stranger to the recording studio as well, recording dozens of local and national jingles for television and radio. Some credits include; USF&G Insurance, Choice Hotels, President George Bush, Baltimore Orioles, Arby’s Restaurant and many more.

https://www.facebook.com/John-King-Music-291792834167428/

Hosea London: Trumpet

Excellsior Band

The leader and manager of the Excelsior Band, Hosea is a graduate of Mississippi Valley State University with a B. S. in Music Education. Mr. London retired from the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. He is currently employed by the Moss Point (MS) School System as a band teacher. He has taught private music lessons in Mobile and Huntsville, AL, grant programs in Pensacola, FL and taught in the Memphis City School System. Hosea’s total existence is related to his love for music. He has played along the Gulf Coast and Southeast United States.

Mike Lyle: Soprano/Alto/Tenor/Baritone Saxophone

Mike Lyle-Saxophone

Mike Lyle-Saxophone

Mike began his musical career as a member of the Elmore County Band (Big Blue), serving as Drum Major in 1974. He Attended University of Alaska-Anchorage and Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama (studied music theory, composition and jazz improvisation). Mike was a military musician for over 20 years, serving in the United States Air Force Band Program as a saxophone performer, band leader, trainer and multiple other musical and non-musical duties.

After retiring from military service Mike has worked as a musical instrument repair technician for the past 22 years, including employment at Capitol Music and Art’s Music Shop in Montgomery, Alabama, Art’s Music Shop in Birmingham, Alabama, Bringe Music in St Petersburg, Florida and is currently working at Blues Angel Music in Pensacola, Florida.

Some of Mike’s favorite music is Jazz (Big Band, Small Group, Bebop, Fusion, Latin), Country (old & new), Contemporary Christian, Gospel as well as Irish/Gaelic.  He has a long standing “off and on” bebop session with Bob Maksymkow that has been on-foing for close to 30 years and for the previous 3 or so years it’s been a weekly session.

Past Ensembles:

Mike has performed with a diversity of talent including:

  • Mary Wilson
  • Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Review
  • Harry James Orchestra
  • Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
  • Rob McConnell
  • Jon Faddis
  • Bobby Shew
  • Ray Pizzi
  • Cleve Eaton
  • Chris Vidala
  • Andy Martin
  • Rick Bell
  • Johnny O’Neil
  • Art DePew

Besides performing with the Mobile Big Band Society, what was his favorite gig?

Top gig? There have been many good ones; but, this is the one:  Marching band gig (believe it or not) in Moscow, Russia (Peace Victory Day Parade 1992). Marched through Moscow with Air Force Pipe Band out of Robins Air Force Base and The National Color Guard from Washington, DC.  Unit’s destination on this parade was Red Square.  Formation stopped in front of Lenin’s Tomb and our unit performed The Star Spangled Banner and The Stars & Stripes Forever – double Ooh Rah!!

 

Jeffrey Lynn: Saxophone

Jeffrey Lynn

Jeffrey Lynn

 

Instruments:
Selmer Mark VI Alto sax, Selmer Mark VI bari sax, Yamaha Tenor sax, Yamaha Clarinet, Gemeinhardt Flute

Education:

  • Murphy High School, 1979
  • Univ. of Southern Mississippi (BME, 1983; BS, 1985)
  • 2 years middle school band under the direction of Lloyd Morris.
  • 4 years of high school band (marching, concert and jazz bands) under the direction of Larry Keating.
  • 2 years in the Mobile County High School All-star Jazz Band under the direction of Joe Riemer. I just learned that this organization was initially started by Bob Schultz!
  • BME, 1983 USM. Studied classical saxophone with Dr. Kenneth Deans. Jazz studies with Mr. Raoul Jerome

Employment history:

Have been employed as a computer programmer (BS, 1985 USM) since 1985 and a part owner of my own company since 1992. We provide data processing solutions for clinical laboratories.
I have played music as a volunteer (community bands) and professionally at every opportunity since 1981.

 

Favorite Music:
Jazz and classical primarily. Also enjoy TOP, Phat City Horns type sounds.

Performed with these ensembles or artist:

Played with anyone famous?

  • Bob Hope
  • Don Menza
  • Rob McConnell
  • Clark Terry
  • Lynn Roberts

Top Five Best Gigs:

  •  The 2000 Montreaux Jazz Festival with the Texas Instruments Jazz Band. We got an invitation to play the festival, which means come and play but you have to pay your own way! Texas Instruments paid the bill for the entire band to go to Montreax, Switzerland for 10 days. We played 2 concerts at outdoor venues on Lake Geneva. Great time!
  • 4 shows with Lynn Roberts aboard the American Queen Steamboat. Lynn has performed with Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Benny Goodman and many others. That was a real treat. Sweet lady who has been performing for over 6 decades and she can still bring it.
  • Rob McConnell as featured artist with the USM Jazz Lab Band. An eye opening experience.
  • Clark Terry with the TI Jazz Band. He did his “Mumbles” bit (click for a video link). What a hoot. This was back in the late 90s and the only 2 words we understood during the bit was “Monica Lewinsky”. Extremely nice man too!

Worst Gig Ever:
A big band where 7 saxes showed up and only one trombone. The lead trombone part was played by one of the many alto sax players that showed up (not me).

Recordings:

  • Tom Reipl “Play!” (bari sax)
  • Eric Erdman “Not Slowing Down” (bari sax)
  • TI Jazz Band “Jazz Bytes” (bari sax)
  • USM Wind Ensemble “The Music of Luigi Zaninelli” (alto and bass clarinet)

Performance Experiences:

  • Several pit orchestras over the years for shows such as Gypsy, Singing in the Rain, Kiss Me Kate, Addams Family, Mame, Grease, Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, etc.
  • Featured soloist with the Baldwin Pops Community Band on Claude T. Smith’s Fantasia For Alto Saxophone and Frank Murtha’s arrangement of ComeSunday for Alto Sax and Band.

Personal Thoughts:
“The Mobile Big Band is the most fun I’ve had in a big band since college.”

 

John Palensky: Bass

johnbasscolor

John Palensky is a versatile and sought-after double bass player who is as comfortable in the rhythm section as he is on the concert stage.  He has performed internationally and across the country with organizations including the Austin (Texas) Symphony Orchestra, the Isaac Greggs Jazz Band, the Buddy Lee Big Band, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and the Orpheus Ensemble with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. John has played such diverse venues as Lincoln Center with the National Youth Orchestra, Mardi Gras Balls in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Clarksville West End Jazz Festival in Austin. This is his sixth season with the Mobile Big Band Society and he also appears with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and the Mobile Symphony Orchestra.  He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Iowa and a Master of Music from the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Hattiesburg with his wife and three musical children.  He enjoys helping young people learn to express themselves through music.  

https://www.facebook.com/john.palensky

Ron Smith: Saxophone/Clarinet

Playground Swing Band, Destin Commons

Playing with the Playground Swing Band, Destin Commons

Instruments:

  • Clarinet- Buffet
  • Alto Sax- Yamaha 82z (tested by Phil Woods)
  • Tenor Sax- Yanagazawa 901
  • Soprano- cheap curved model (not bad though)

EDUCATION:

MUSIC EDUCATION:

  • 2 yrs clarinet- William J Moody, instructor’
  • 2 yrs alto sax- Dr William Gower

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY:

  • On the road all over America for 2 yrs with the Russ Carlyle Orchestra, 1964-1965
  • A real road rat and wonderful new experiences. Learned how to play real music with pros!

MILITARY SERVICE:

“Joined US Army Band in 1966,started at Ft Monroe, Virginia, then to Tokyo, Japan for three years. I got out of the Army in 1970 for 11 months . Went back on the road with the Carlyle Band playing dances in famous places such as The Roseland Ballroom and Dance City in Manhattan, Steel Pier in Atlantic City and the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago.

Went back to Uncle Sam in August 1971 at Ft. Sam in the “Mash”band.(The advanced school for Army doctors band). Yes it was almost a “Hawkeye”  & Colonel Potter setting…especially when we would go play for them at their bivouac site in the woods!

Went to Seoul Korea for a year,then back stateside at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, marvelous symphonic band there! After 2 yrs I went back to Korea for 2 more yrs. Great stage band and symphonic band, really good!

In 1977 I went back to the band at Camp Zama, Japan and stayed four and a half years. Then to Ft Knox, Kentucky for five yrs, and finally to Naples, Italy to end a wonderful exciting life playing professionally!”

FAVORITE MUSIC:

Jazz and musicals ( I have played with 66 Broadway plays )

NAMES OF GROUPS YOU’VE PERFORMED WITH:

PLAYED WITH ANYBODY FAMOUS?

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Jimmy Dorsey
  • Temptations
  • Harmonica Cats
  • Fabien
  • Ray Stevens
  • Carl Fontana
  • Bob Shultz Big Band
  • Mobile Big Band Society (My favorite)
  • And a few more I can’t remember!

TOP FIVE BEST GIGS OF YOUR LIFE :

“All gigs played …..but the tour in the foreign countries you can imagine living on the economy with the every day nationals and giving them musical pleasure performing many concerts and parades at the same time …it was awesome. The reception by them was so appreciative!”

“One of my most memorable gigs was in Korea. Our 8th Army Band was invited to perform at a small Korean village about two hundred miles from our base. It was their week of international festivals. They wanted our American Band to perform for their arts festival. I choked up when we came rolling in on two Army buses, about two miles out was a line of students welcoming our band all the way into the village.

They were waving American flags and so glad to see us. It is an isolated village and they never get to see foreigners.

We played the nice concert including both national anthems and the Korean Folk Song medley, marches, Broadway pops, and some jazz by my own big jazz band.

These students had a painting contest. The winners were placed in the local art gallery. After we toured the museum, they actually gave all the art to our band as an appreciation for our coming to their town.

It was such a heartwarming gathering that I had never felt before. People are all about love every where in the world and I was so fortunate to perform for those wonderful people.”

 

Also in Italy at the Piazzas on mountain tops, playing next to a castle , then they took us into the dungeon and fed us a seven course meal afterwards. Getting home at 4am was common. Many many gigs in Scotland , England ,Spain, Switzerland (Both Bern and Geneva for the American Embassies personnel). Christmas shows with lot’s of homesick tears. Happy moments for all our military and their families overseas missing home.

Played in the infield for the Kentucky Derby five years,  1982-1987.

WORST GIG:

Played for a dozen cows and a few band wives in aMaryland concert;nobody showed up. (I think I didn’t show up for a few of the 9000 gigs I have actually performed …. had few too many). Been sober almost 30 yrs now!

RECORDINGS:

Recorded two albums for RCA VICTOR while stationed in Japan. Golden Hit Melodies for Tenor Sax and the Eddie Smith Allstars .

There were 27 Japanese pop songs at the time 1968-69. They are first class RCA standards. Studio musicians, jazz players and myself as soloist on tenor saxophone. Sort of like a nice bossa, Getz style and regular minor scale oriental sounding melodies. I am very proud of my performances on these recordings. They were done from midnight till the wee hours with just two takes max. Fine players all the way around even though it is a commercial music style.

AWARDS:

  • Lot’s of 5k 1st places when I was younger (did 22:22 once for 3.1 miles 49 yrs old)!
  • Most progressive trophy (8th grade) Band
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Hundreds of letters of appreciations for gigs played by combo and show bands I directed .
  • My Honorable discharge for 22 yrs service to my country.

 

INTERESTING GIG STORY:

In 1980 the Japan Self Defense Force invited the US Army Band in Japan to perform along side their bands at a six-hour presentation by their military bands. It was an honor to us. 10 bands total, all like our DC bands, very, very good. Memory was a must. The show was a seven minute mini halftime show. Each band came out individually to do their thing for seven minutes.

So, since I had been rehearsing my big band on Malaguana with all the fireworks it has, I decided to put it in the show and fire up the Japanese old fashion traditions and introduce swing in a march kind of place. (This was done at the famous Buddakan in Tokyo and broadcast on national tv). We started with a march onto the huge stage; after having played a thrilling fanfare, we proceeded to the middle in block form and suddenly turned into a concave shape and went into a parade rest while beginning Georgia On My Mind. Our singer came out and sang a short version, then we played Maleguana and brought the house down! We followed that with a jazz version of the Army Song, then marched off to National Emblem March. All the bands got together in mass for the playing of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin and a Strauss biggie. Great gig. We’d like to think that we actually changed their old stale style to modern times. We did another show the next year and they started doing skits.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD:

Great guys playing great American music……….don’t get any better my friends!

 

William (Bill) Steele: Alto Saxophone

Bill Steele pilot

Starting at age 10, Bill played saxophone in school bands, marching bands, jazz bands, all state bands, the McDonald’s All American Band, and community bands.  While his friends were listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he was listening to Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and other jazz greats. His childhood dream was to play saxophone in one of the great jazz bands.

Bill attended the University of Southern Mississippi with plans to obtain a degree in music, but a career in music was not to be.  He found himself on a different track.  After graduating from USM, Bill joined the United States Marine Corps and became a pilot and flight instructor.  After six years of active duty with the Marine Corps, he joined the National Guard and served for fifteen years as a pilot and as commanding officer of a helicopter assault company.  During this time, he graduated with a law degree from the University of Alabama, and became a lawyer and a judge.  But throughout all of this, Bill continued to play his sax.  After returning to Mobile in 1981, he joined the Mobile Pops Band, and has performed as a member of the saxophone section of the Townsmen big band and the Mobile Jazz Company.  He found opportunities to play pick up gigs with groups passing through the Mobile area like the Four Tops, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and the Ringling Brothers Circus band.

Around 1988, Bill began performing with the Bob Schoultz Orchestra on an as needed basis, and by 1990, he became a regular member of that group and has remained so through its transition to what is now the Mobile Big Band Society.

Pilot, lawyer, judge, but Bill’s dream was to someday play in one of the great jazz bands.  That dream has been realized.  “The Mobile Big Band Society—a great jazz band.”

David White: Drums

Studying under Dr. John Papastefan, David received a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from the University of South Alabama before going on to study jazz at the University of North Texas under Henry Okstel and world-renowned jazz drummer Ed Soph.  In addition, David has also taken private lessons with jazz drumming great, Jim Chapin and funk drummer, Mike Clark.

In addition to teaching at Full Scale School of Music, David also teaches at the University of Mobile and Ellis Studios and performs regularly at Dahlia’s Electric Piano Hall and Dayspring Baptist Church. David has performed with the Port City Symphony, Gulf Coast Symphony and more recently with the Mobile Symphony.  He has also played drums for many musical theater productions at the Joe Jefferson Playhouse and the Mobile Theater Guild and played in numerous rock, country, blues, jazz and big bands.  With these various musical groups, he has performed in ten states including Pennsylvania, New York and Texas.

Sean Worrell – Piano

Coast Jazz Society

Coast Jazz Society

Education:

  • Batavia High School – Batavia IL
  • Northern Illinois University – Dekalb IL – Music Performance/Theory/Composition
  • Full Sail University – Orlando FL – Recording/Audio Engineering

MUSIC EDUCATION (WHO’D YOU STUDY WITH?):

  • Bobby Christian – Oak Park IL – Percussion/Mallet & Tuned Percussion

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY (music and non-music):

  • Music: Drums LTD/Frank’s Drum Shop – Chicago IL
  • Non: WPMI NBC15 – Mobile AL – Director/Technical Director

FAVORITE MUSIC:

  • Jazz
  • Funk
  • R&B
  • Classical

NAMES OF GROUPS YOU’VE PERFORMED WITH:

  • Too many to list…I’m a freelance musician…I’ll play with anyone that can keep my lights on & gas in my car…

PLAYED WITH ANYBODY FAMOUS?

  • I have played with musicians that have played with famous people (if that counts?)

TOP FIVE BEST GIGS OF YOUR LIFE:

  • My list changes monthly/yearly…I am so blessed to play with so many great musicians (in that) after so many gigs I tell myself “that goes in my top five”

WORST GIG:

  • Worst gigs I’ve had in my life are the ones in direct sunlight 107° heat index with no cover on the bandstand

ARE YOU ON ANY RECORDS OR CD’S?

  • I am a freelance studio musician & have recorded/overdubbed keyboard/organ tracks for artists at Studio H2O (Mobile AL) in addition to many other Gulf Coast studios

INTERESTING GIG STORIES?

  • Did a gig many years ago in Gulf Shores AL…drunk guy in audience yells to the singer “you couldn’t sing out of your ass in a whorehouse”…drummer leaps over his kit…cops show up…etc…

BAND LEADER EXPERIENCE

  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Dolphin Cruise Lines