Chris began playing trumpet at the age of 13. He learned his basic trumpet skills from his father. Although receiving a late start on his trumpet playing, Chris caught up quickly and was soon working professionally around Ardmore. After graduating high school, Chris joined the Army Bands working not only as a trumpet player, but also as a vocalist, keyboardist, and sound technician with the 62nd Army Band based in Ft. Bliss, El Paso. His masterful skills provided him with opportunities to travel, play and teach in South Korea, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Canada, and South America. Chris earned his Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Texas at Arlington. He now holds a position as Adjunct Professor at Tarrant County Community College and Northlake College.
As a Director in the ’44 Uprising Productions and Records Family, Chris maintains a very important role as Arranger, Producer, Film Score and Underscore Composition, Songwriter, Artist & Repertoire Developer and Business Development.
Chuck Fesperman is a Dallas-Fort Worth based jazz trumpeter and composer/songwriter. Originally from Charlotte, NC, he obtained his jazz roots with the Charlotte Monday Night Jazz Band under the direction of the late Bill Hannah. Chuck studied Music Education at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Chuck served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and perofrmed with Training Center Bands in Cape May, NJ and Peteluma, CA. After his military service, Chuck performed with various bands traveling throughout the USA, the Caribbean, and Mexico. He has studied with smooth jazz great, Rick Braun, and jazz educator Dan Hearle. Now in the Dallas area, Chuck's band performs a wide variety of jazz, from standards to the latest smooth jazz funk tunes. His tone and melodic interpretations make him a crowd pleaser for any venue.
The son of Jamaican immigrants and a native of Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Oscar Passley graduated from Morgan State University with a B.A. in music where he studied trumpet with Melvin Miles. He finished master’s degrees in trumpet performance and music education as well as his Doctor of Musical Arts in trumpet performance under the tutelage of Mike Steinel and John Holt at the University of North Texas. Passley has shared the stage with notable musicians such as Andrea Bocelli, Gladys and "Bubba" Knight, Regina Carter, and Wynton Marsalis.
Evan Weiss grew up in the Seattle area and began exploring composition at an early age. He made his way to Denton, TX, to study at the University of North Texas where he had the opportunity to write, perform, and travel with the Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band. He has recorded, performed, and toured with The Funky Knuckles, The Polyphonic Spree, Snarky Puppy, and many other projects in Dallas and worldwide. Original music featured on The Funky Knuckles upcoming album “The Way it Is” releasing early 2023.
Freddie Jones is a popular jazz trumpet player and composer in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. With an amazing musical gift, Freddie Jones kicks up the energy of a room a notch or two and thrills a jazz-lover’s soul! Audiences are in awe of the sound this Freddie Jones can coax from his horns. Freddie has taken his trumpet and his group on the road throughout the southwest, performing in hot spots from Austin’s’ The Elephant Room to Little Rock’s Riverfront Auditorium to numerous festivals in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex, Oklahoma City, and everywhere in between. He has also performed in Paris, The Hague and Rotterdam. He has several cds to his credit. His band, the Freddie Jones Jazz Group, never fails to pull in the audience and deliver an exciting sound.
As a composer/arranger, Micah Bell is very busy as well writing commissions for various ensembles. He is the chief arranger for the Imperial Brass and in addition to writing big band arrangements, music for his jazz quintet and whatever else the occasion may call for, Mr. Bell has had several pieces premiered at prominent conventions around the world. In 2005, his composition Midnight was premiered at the International Trumpet Guild convention in Bangkok, Thailand. He is a regular member of the Imperial Brass, The Project Band, and has served as Interim Director of Bands at Tyler Junior College as well as Interim Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Texas at Tyler. He currently serves as a busy freelance trumpet player, composer and arranger in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex as well as East Texas and is Professor of Music and Trumpet at Tyler Junior College.
Mike Steinel holds a BME degree from Emporia State University and a MME degree from the University of North Texas. An experienced jazz trumpeter, pianist, composer and arranger, Mr. Steinel was jazz artist in residence at Bethel College and was on the faculty of Northern Illinois University before coming to North Texas. He has served on the faculties of the Clark Terry Jazz Camp, the Jamey Aebersold Improvisation Camps, the Saskatchewan Summer Jazz Camp and the University of Missouri Summer Jazz Residency.
Mike has performed as soloist at the MENC and IAJE national conventions and at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. His playing experience includes work with Clark Terry, Don Ellis, Bill Evans, Jerry Bergonzi and recordings with the Chicago Jazz Quintet and the Frank Mantooth Big Band. Honors received include an Illinois Arts Council Chairman's Grant (1985) and a jazz fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1987).
El Paso native Rodney Booth has been an active professional musician since he was 16 years old and playing trumpet in his father’s bands. A graduate of the University of North Texas (UNT), he was a member of the school’s renowned One O’Clock Lab Band. Rodney has performed with many major artists such as Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd Big Band, Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few. Long active in studio and commercial recordings, he has recorded with the popular artists Al Green and Janie Fricke as well as national commercials for companies like Texaco, McDonald’s, and Chevrolet plus sports teams, television programs, news channels, and even the US Postal Service. When not teaching at his alma mater, Rodney is busy performing at public, private, and corporate events throughout the area.