MJO Players!

Click below to learn about our musicians:

 

MJO Staff


Scott Handler - Executive Director, lead trumpet, co-leader/founder

Kevin Buchanan - Operating Manager, lead trombone, co-leader/founder

Jim Mick - Musical Director

Vocalists


Suzanne Morrison - A vocalist of a rare breed – one who can sing a beautiful melody as well as create exciting improvisational jazz solos, Suzanne is in demand for classical, jazz, and pop singing.  She has appeared as featured vocalist with numerous professional and university ensembles – the likes of jazz trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler, the University of Northern Colorado’s Lab Band 1, The Yellowstone Big Band, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, the Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band Classic, and Ben Folds.  Featured on several recordings, Suzanne may be heard on such albums as UNC Jazz Lab Band I’s Alive XVII:” For the Last Time!”, Andy Nevala's "Waiting in the Alley," and her own debut album, "From Where You Are."

In addition to her jazz work, Suzanne has enjoyed performing operatic roles such as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” as well as serving as chorus master for several opera productions.  Suzanne continues to be an active classical soloist performing with numerous chamber ensembles, and a member of several choral groups. She has been a member of Kantorei, St. Augustine’s Chamber Ensemble, Howard Skinner’s Choralfest, and the Colorado Bach Ensemble.

Suzanne holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting, a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, as well as a Bachelor of Arts - minor in Theater, from the University of Northern Colorado.  She spent several years as Artist-in-Residence at Colorado State University directing several vocal jazz ensembles, as well as being a faculty member for the Rocky Mountain Summer Music Camp. Suzanne maintains active memberships in the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the Jazz Educators Network. Owner of Greenwood Music Studio, Suzanne currently teaches voice and beginning piano privately, and is adjunct voice instructor at Northeastern Junior College.

Doug Barta - male vocalist, trumpet (see trumpets for bio and photo)

Saxophones/Reeds


Zack Cassell - alto sax, soprano sax, flute: A Colorado native, Zack began his musical career at the age of 10, playing saxophone in the school band.

Zack plays exclusively with the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra (lead alto) and the Denver Municipal Band.

Matt Burchard- alto sax, flute

Paul Farus - tenor sax, soprano sax, flute

Alan Nowicki - tenor sax, clarinet: Alan started playing clarinet when he was 8 and started playing guitar when he was 13.He played at Fort Lewis College and was able to get a scholarship for his tuition with his clarinet skills. He has a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Colorado State University. He started playing the tenor sax in 1978 and studied under Joe Lukasic for a number of years. For 5 years he played in a cover band called Neon Nites which performed in Central City area.

In 1986 he wanted to play jazz and found Laura Newman and Kim McCord, who organized the New Cord School of Music; he would perform at Greeley UNC Jazz Festivals and start an ongoing pursuit of Jazz studies. It continued with the Colorado Jazz Workshop and directors Lou Fischer, Greg Carol, Bob Montgomery, Leslie Drayton and others who were always a great help and inspiration.

to be determined- baritone sax, flute

Trumpet/Flugelhorn


Scott Handler - lead trumpet, flugelhorn

David Froman - trumpet: David has been on the music scene in Denver since the mid-eighties. He has played with many of the big bands in town and has recently been presented as a featured artist at Dazzle in a quartet setting. Recently, David returned to school to study jazz at the University of Denver - an intensive two-year course of study under some of the finest players around.

David currently is the president and executive director of The Gift of Jazz, a Denver-based non-profit organization, whose mission it is to support the past, present and future of jazz in the Rocky Mountain region.

Mark Ibsen - trumpet: Mark spends his working hours as a project engineer at a small Denver company. A native Coloradoan, he started playing trumpet in 5th grade and continued playing in the great Englewood school music program through high schoool.

He received his undergraduate chemical engineering degree from Colorado State University. While attending CSU he continued playing in many ensembles, including the university's premier jazz band, The Statesmen.

After graduating in 1986 he continued playing in community bands and musical orchestras. In 1999 he joined one of the Colorado Jazz Workshop bands, and is currently playing in community bands in Highlands Ranch as well as with the MJO.

Doug Barta - trumpet/flugelhorn, male vocalist: Born into a musical family, Doug grew up playing and singing in his Dad's dance band. His Dad led that band for 50 years, and his three older brothers played in the band as well.

Doug's musical background includes almost every style of music, both vocal and instrumental, and he is one of the band's trumpet soloists, as well as the featured male vocalist.

Doug retired after 37 years in music education in 2011 and lives in Parker with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Ryan and Luke.

Dan Johnson - trumpet

Trombone


Kevin Buchanan- lead trombone

Ron Argotsinger - trombone: Ron was born in Denver and started playing trombone at the age of 12. After graduating from Arvada High School, he attended University of Northern Colorado and received a Bachelor of Music Education degree. In 1991, he completed a Master of Music Education degree at the University of Northern Colorado. Ron retired in May 2010 after 32 years of teaching instrumental music.

Ron's groups have traveled and performed at music festivals in Rapid City SD, Dallas TX and Orlando FL, as well Dublin, Ireland. Ron's family are all musicians from his wife Monica to his five children, all playing piano as well as trombone, percussion, clarinet, flute and trumpet.

Since his retirement, Ron has devoted a great deal of time and energy into playing trombone. He plays regularly with the Tromboniacs, a trombone quartet, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, the Rocky Mountain Brassworks, a British style Brass Band and is the principal conductor with the Denver Pops Orchestra .

to be determined - third trombone
 
Kiel Lauer - bass trombone

 

Rhythm


Serena Eads - guitar

Jason Malmberg - double bass, fender bass

Alan Aluisi - drums: Alan grew up in the Denver area, and spent 10 musically formative years with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps. While attending UNC in Greeley he played with the Jazz Lab Band 1, and several small combos. Alan was out of music for many years due to illness, but upon resuming, was fortunate enough to receive awards for musicianship in various Jazz Festivals. He authored a critically acclaimed solo book used in top music schools, "Solo Etudes". He also invented the ‘Drum Wheel’ electronic kinetic drum set with a multi-volume curriculum, which allows drummers to play patterns never before possible, resulting in a significant expansion the drum set medium. Alan used the ‘Wheel’ on the critically acclaimed CD ‘Hats’ with the Bob Gillis group, which also garnered a “Top 10” pick from the prestigious Cadence Magazine.

In addition to MJO, Alan’s musical affiliations include: the Colorado Jazz Workshop, the Boulder Big Band, Deborah Stafford Quartet, Aurora Singers, Portraits Jazz Quintet, Flatirons Jazz Quintet, the Jazz Mutants, the Bob Gillis Group, and all-style freelancing.

Gary Dempsey - keyboards: With a Bachelor of Music Ed. degree from the Univ. of Missouri at Kansas City, Gary's somewhat brief foray as a music educator soon morphed into a 30-year career with the Seattle-based software division of a national insurance company where his titles/responsibilities ranged from Sales Programs Manager to Marketing Programs Manager to Communications and Public Relations Manager to Enterprise Portal Developer. His earlier musician experiences had led to tours with the Andy Williams/Henry Mancini Show as well as various 'hotel band' gigs in Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee. A 3-year stint in the house band at the venerable Taylors' Supper Club in Denver then preceded a 20-year hiatus from the music business as he traded his days in front of a piano keyboard for days in front of a computer keyboard. Now that he is living in Estes Park (and has reversed that keyboard swap . . .), you are as likely to see him roaming the trails of Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park as fulfilling pianist roles for MJO and the Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra as well as occasional solo engagements.

Camilla Vaitaitis - keyboards

Behind The Band


Rohde Wakefield - sound technician : Born and raised in Longmont, Rohde started playing and enjoying music at 7 and hasn't stopped since. As an electric bass and hand percussion player, Rohde accompanies his lovely wife Karre Ann (a Christian pop singer, worship leader and women's event speaker) in her work. He also enjoys recording artists in his home studio. Rohde received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering from CU Boulder in 1991, and works as a software engineer by day.

MJO | Denver Colorado