Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes – past, present and future:
Trumpets: Liesl Whitaker, Carol Morgan, Amy McCabe, Eliza Minster, Brenda Padilla, Kate Amrine, Rachel McGrain, Cheryl Terwilliger, Caeley Niess, Chris Walker (He’s part of the fam, you know… ;), Mike Gillespie, Mike “Bags” Davis is another great lead sub!
Hailed by the Washington City Paper as “D.C.’s Best Trombonist 2015,” DC based Shannon Gunn is known for her exceptional tone and her grandiose project-du-jour. She is currently the artist in residence on Tuesday nights at Columbia Station in Adams Morgan as leader of the “Firebird Organ Trio,” named “DC’s Best Small Ensemble 2016” by the Washington City Paper. She also runs DC’s premiere all-women jazz orchestra, “Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes,” including successful performances at the Kennedy Center, Castleton Theatre House, DC Jazz Festival, Washington Women in Jazz Festival, and Dardanella. As a member of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, she’s had the privilege of playing with notable artists such as Oliver Lake, Cheryl Bailey, Yotam Silverstein, Wycliffe Gordon, Elliott Hughes, Erika Dohi, and for Miho Hazama. Additionally, as lead trombone player at Michigan State University, she played with Billy Taylor, Rodney Whitaker, and Marian McPartland. She earned her Masters of Music in Jazz Studies from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and also attended James Madison University and Michigan State University for her music studies. She produced “The JazzCast,” a podcast dedicated to curated listening sessions with jazz musicians. In addition to the ensembles listed above, Shannon Gunn has performed with the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, Reunion Music Society, American Festival Pops Orchestra, Manassas Chorale, and at various venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Takoma Park Jazz Festival, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Westminster Jazz Night, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Mr. Henry’s, DCTV, CBS Morning Show (local) in Richmond, the Washington Women in Jazz Festival, and has subbed in with the DIVA! Jazz Orchestra for Maurice Hines’ “Tappin Thru’ Life.” She resides in Virginia with her husband, Timothy, and her dog, Faith.
Jessica Boykin-Settles began her musical studies as a voice major at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. By her senior year she was the featured vocalist in the school’s jazz orchestra. Upon graduating, she continued her musical pursuits at New School University in New York City. There she had the opportunity to study under the tutelage of great musicians such as Reggie Workman, Junior Mance, Cecil McBee, Arnie Lawrence, Buster Williams, Sheila Jordan, Janet Lawson, Teri Thornton and Dr. Richard Harper. During her stint in New York, Jessica led her own band and had the opportunity to work in a variety of venues in and around New York City. In 1997, Jessica represented the New School University Jazz and Contemporary Music Program at the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois and the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) Annual Meeting in Siena, Italy.
In May 2004, Jessica Boykin-Settles received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Howard University in Washington, DC. While there, Jessica sang with Howard’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue, under the direction of Connaitre Miller. After graduating, she spent seven years teaching and mentoring students in the Howard University music program. After taking a two-year break to pursue her singing full time, she is back teaching at Howard University as well as directing the Education Program for the DC Jazz Festival. She also teaches and mentors youth with the Washington Jazz Arts Institute under the direction of Davey Yarborough, and conducts workshops and performs with her quartet throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Photo credit Brian Settles.
Karine is currently the Professor of Jazz Bass at James Madison University, the music teacher at Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School in Washington DC, and a busy freelance musician. She holds a BM from McGill University, and a MM in Music and a MM in Music Education from Howard University. In 2011, Karine was awarded ‘Outstanding Performance in Jazz at the College Graduate Level’ by Downbeat Magazine. Karine’s professional performance career has taken her all over the world, and she has appeared at major venues and festivals such as The Pori Jazz Festival, The North Sea Jazz Festival, The Montreal International Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Karine has performed with Marvin Hamlisch and The National Symphony Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Paquito D’Rivera, Mary Halvorson, Allison Miller, and The Washington Ballet. During her tenure with the Canadian based pop band ‘Creature’ she had the opportunity to record at SARM studios in London, where Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Madonna has recorded some of their work. Karine is currently endorsed by Godin Guitars. Photo Credit Bassmint Photography by Herman Burney.
Sarah graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Maryland in 2008. While there she studied privately with world-renowned classical saxophonist Dale Underwood. After graduating Sarah taught beginning band and strings in Prince George’s county schools for five years and also maintained two private studios in Maryland and Virginia. During that time she performed in and around DC and New York City with ensembles including the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and the Brad Linde Ensemble, a Washington D.C.-based collective dedicated to exploring and expanding the styles of jazz that emerged in the 1950s including bebop, cool jazz, third stream, and free jazz. As part of these ensembles, Sarah shared the stage with jazz greats such as Lee Konitz, Ted Brown, Freddie Redd, Matt Wilson, and Michael Formanek.
While at the New England Conservatory, Sarah studied privately with Jerry Bergonzi, Ran Blake, Donny McCaslin, and Anthony Coleman, all of whom impacted Sarah’s unique approach to improvisation and music-making. Sarah performed on Coleman’s latest album, “You” and has performed with Coleman in concerts at the New England Conservatory as well as Roulette and The Stone in New York. Sarah studied composition in classes with Ken Schaphorst and also Ben Schwendener, with whom she has performed several duo concerts in Boston.
In September of 2015 Sarah toured Sweden as part of Amy K. Bormet’s “Ephemera” and performed in Sweden’s first Women in Jazz festival. She also recently taught an improvisation workshop, “Improvisation for Everyone: Games and Storytelling” for beginning, intermediate, and advanced instrumentalists in the 2016 Judith Lapple Summer Woodwind Camp in Fairfax, Virginia. Most recently, she went on tour with an improvising trio “Lead Bubbles”, playing venues in New York, Montreal, and Toronto. Sarah hopes her music and teaching will continue to introduce her to new people, places, and art.
Mastering sound and mood, Halley Shoenberg is an accomplished saxophone and clarinet player whose style is collected from several sources of jazz, theatre and popular music. From swinging originals to noted modern-era favorites, her intelligently inspired brand of music shines with unique clarity.
A multi-instrumentalist who plays clarinet, saxophone and flute, Shoenberg has produced three CD releases, Love Goes ‘Round, Someday, and Private Concert which include several of her original compositions. A native of Silver Spring, Maryland, Halley earned her Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University and Master’s in Arts Administration from Florida State University.
As leader of her own “Halley Shoenberg Jazz Quartet” and other ensembles, most recently adding the “Halley’s Hot Gumbo Swingtet,” her concert and festival presentations have won the hearts of jazz enthusiasts who demand master musicianship.
Past performances include the “Halley Shoenberg Octet” in concert at Strathmore Mansion and her bands at DC area festivals such as the Bethesda, MD Fine Arts Festival, Alexandria, VA Jazz Festival and the Silver Spring Swings concert series. As the clarinet soloist in DC’s premiere swing band, Halley is regularly featured on classic swing masterpieces and evening-long Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman tributes. She has played at major venues including the Kennedy Center, National Parks, at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival and Blues Alley. Her Trio was featured in Worchester, MA at a live performance and broadcast for WICN Radio.
Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Buddy DeFranco, and Ken Peplowski influence her clarinet playing. Her saxophone style pays respect to Art Pepper, Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Stan Getz. Halley is also inspired by the legendary music of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and the Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton big bands.
Having intensely studied classical and jazz, she currently teaches private lessons to young clarinet and saxophone students in addition to performing. At Indiana University’s School of Music Halley studied with David Baker, Dominic Spera, James Campbell, Tom Walsh, Lynn Baker, J.B. Dyas and many more outstanding musician-teachers of performance, history, and composition. After graduation, Shoenberg served as intern in the Smithsonian’s jazz history department. During her arts administration graduate program at Florida State University, she performed and toured with the school’s award-winning jazz ensemble and interned at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Based in Washington DC, her performances on saxophone in Rhapsody in Blue and the West Side Story Suite have been heard on tour in Germany with the Washington Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed traditional “Dixieland” jazz with the Potomac River Jazz Club’s Federal Focus Jazz Band, which participated in Chilliwack Jazz Festival in British Columbia and at the French Quarter Jazz Festival in New Orleans. Shoenberg has performed in New York, at the Boswell Sisters Centennial in New Orleans and at the Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center.
In addition to the Halley Shoenberg Jazz Octet, Quartet and Trio, Halley performs and has recorded with the Tom Cunningham (swing) Orchestra, the James Bazen (modern-style) Big Band, the La Salle (1920’s and 30’s jazz) Dance Orchestra, the Bitter Dose (gypsy jazz) Combo, Craig Gildner and Blue Sky 5, and Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes.
Saxophonist/arranger Leigh Pilzer has performed at many of Washington, DC’s top jazz venues, including Blues Alley, Twins Jazz, and Westminster Presbyterian. She co-leads the Jen Krupa–Leigh Pilzer Quintet (JLQ), which has been featured at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Blues Alley, Jazz at the Garden, The Mansion at Strathmore, and the Takoma Park JazzFest, among others.
Leigh is a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, Mike Kamuf’s Little Big Band, and Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes. With SJMO, DIVA, and the National Symphony Orchestra she has toured across the United States and in Austria, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Holland, and Russia. She also freelances with a variety of ensembles in the mid-Atlantic region.
Leigh’s arrangements have been performed by the DC-area premier military jazz ensembles and by college and professional jazz ensembles and brass quintets throughout the country. DIVA recently recorded several of Leigh’s big band arrangements: two can be heard on DIVA’s most recent CD, A Swingin’ Life (2014) and two more will be included on the band’s upcoming release Special Kay, (scheduled for 2015). Another was featured on the soundtrack for Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (2014). Other arranging credits include horn section writing for recordings by Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy and orchestrations for the critically-acclaimed show Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life.
Repertory performances and lecture recitals include “Collaboration in Jazz, Featuring the Music of Gerry Mulligan” and “The Music of The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Melba Liston” with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Quintet; “Sax in the City,” featuring the music of Benny Carter, Gerry Mulligan, and Lester Young with the SJMO saxophone and rhythm sections; and “Women in Jazz: The Early Years” and “The Music of Melba Liston” at the Washington Women in Jazz Festival.
Leigh holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging from the Berklee College of Music and Master’s degrees in Jazz Studies and Saxophone Performance from The University of Maryland, College Park. After completing her academic work at Maryland she studied studied traditional and jazz theory at The Catholic University of America with the late Dr. Steven Strunk. Leigh has served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Towson University, where she has taught Jazz Theory, Jazz Arranging, and Jazz History.
Angeliqua (Angel) Bethea
Angeliqua (Angel) Bethea is currently a freshman majoring in Music with a Jazz Studies concentration at George Mason University in Fairfax, V.A. She attended the prestigious Ellington School for the Arts during high school during which she worked closely with the great Davey Yarborough. She also attended the Washington Arts Institute for Jazz each summer for the last 5 years. During her time at Ellington, she had the opportunity to play with Earth Wind and Fire, Patti Labelle, and Sting. She has played at Duke Ellington, the Kennedy Center, and the Strathmore Mansion. While at Ellington, she was able to participate in master classes with Matt Wilson, Terrell Stafford, and Winard Harper’s group. She currently plays with the George Mason Jazz Ensemble, GMU jazz combos, the AVU gospel group, and a local band called D6 that is comprised of former Ellington students. She is also currently playing with the Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes Septet, and recently released an album with them called “It Don’t Mean a Thing…” She currently resides with her family in Washington, DC.