KEITH BAUMANN, bandleader, guitar and tenor Banjo, is originally from New York City and has been a professional musician for nearly 35 years. With a strong background in traditional music, he has performed at numerous music festivals and venues throughout the United States. Keith is a respected multi-instrumentalist that has toured with the Grammy-nominated group, “The Special Consensus” and was a founding member of Western Swing Hall of Famer Don Burnham’s Lost Weekend band. After relocating to Chicago in 1991, Keith worked with several area big bands and Dixieland jazz groups, both as a leader and a sideman. He has performed weekly at Chicago’s Green Mill Lounge for the past 5 years and has taught at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music and in the Harper College music department. As an educator, Keith has been an instructor at several national music camps and workshops including the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Midwest Banjo Camp, NashCamp and the Cape Cod Mandolin Camp. In addition to performing, Keith is a feature writer for DownBeat jazz magazine and has also had articles published in both Guitar Player and Flatpicking Guitar magazine. Driven by his love of vintage swing music, and vintage guitars, Keith formed the Main Stem Orchestra in 2015, recruiting some of Chicago’s top jazz talent to join him.
MARK SONKSEN, musical director, double-bass, has been playing in all the major jazz clubs and hotels in the Chicagoland area for more than 25 years. Since 2012 he has been playing swing-era music every Thursday night at the famous Green Mill jazz club in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Mark’s first foray into music began as a young freelance bassist in eastern Iowa in the late 1980s, playing swing-era dance band music and 1920s Dixie-swing music with regional dance bands and combos, playing in modern jazz groups, and even a stint as a section double-bassist in the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. Since that time he has toured extensively, having played and recorded in festivals, concert halls and clubs in the USA, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Austria, England, Puerto Rico, Argentina and most recently a 2 month tour of China as part of the Tango show “Identidad”. A versatile musician, since 2009 he has been a stalwart member of the Chicago-based and Grammy-nominated (2015)ensemble New Budapest Orpheum Society, having played concerts in Europe of Jewish stage and film music from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. As a composer influenced by Argentine and Uruguayan tango and folk music, and also American Jazz & Swing music traditions, to date he has recorded 6 cds of original compositions and arrangements, ranging from jazz trios/quartets to an 11-piece Tango “orquesta tipica”. For his work with Chicago’s Main Stem Orchestra, he plays and records on a double-bass setup with gut strings for an authentic swing-era jazz sound.
JEREMY KAHN, piano, is one of Chicago’s busiest musicians, dividing his time between jazz venues, pit orchestras, and recording and teaching studios. He graduated from New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard. Jeremy then spent twelve years in New York, where he was a member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, and was the pianist in the Chicago Jazz Ensemble (led by Jon Faddis). He has performed on stage with Dizzy Gillespie, Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Branford Marsalis, the Chicago and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras, and on screen with Madonna, Mary Wilson and Johnny Crawford. Jeremy has played at many of Chicago’s theaters, including the Oriental, Cadillac Palace, Shubert, Auditorium, Chicago, Aurora Paramount, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Lincolnshire Marriott, Porchlight and Royal George for shows like Wicked, Spamalot, The Lion King, Les Miserables, Aida and Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara. Jeremy was also the pianist/conductor for productions of Hot Mikado and Pal Joey, and is currently a faculty member of Northwestern University and the Music Institute of Chicago. He has been a featured performer at the Chicago, Hyde Park and Poznan (Poland) Jazz Festivals, and a featured guest on the radio shows of Studs Terkel and Marian McPartland. Jeremy sits on the Advisory Board of the PianoForte Foundation and is a 2014 honoree of the Chicago Musicians Union Dal Sagno Club.
BRIAN COLLINS, drums, has been a professional musician for more than 15 years. He attended College of DuPage where he studied jazz with Tom Tallman. Brian also studied classical percussion under the tutelage of Michael Folker and expanded his drumset confidence under Greg Kulma. At Elmhurst College, his education grew even further under the instruction of Bob Rummage and through the real world lessons of the EC Jazz Band under the direction of Doug Beach.
Brian now continues his love for music both as an educator and as a performer. He has performed with the Pete Ellman Big Band, Brass Tracks Big Band and plays hand percussion with the Dan Hayes Orchestra. He toured nationally with the Manny B Group, has played in numerous musicals and has been a part of the We're Not Brothers trio, The Nitehawks jazz band and The Chicagoland Showstoppers. His variety of musical influences continues to push him to delve deeper into music of all genres.
PETRA VAN NUIS, vocalist, came to Chicago in 2004 via New York City with her husband, jazz guitarist Andy Brown. Petra has recorded three CDs and performs regularly at Chicago's prominent jazz venues including the Chicago Cultural Center, the Jazz Showcase, the Green Mill, the Illiana Jazz Club, Fitzgerald's, and Andy’s Jazz Club. Petra’s own group was featured at the 2011 Chicago Jazz Festival. Regionally, Petra has been a featured vocalist at numerous jazz societies, and music festivals nationally. Highlights include the Chautauqua Jazz Party (NY), the Roswell Jazz Festival (NM), the Cedar Basin Jazz Festival (IA), and twice headlining the Michelob Women In Jazz Festival (OH). Internationally, Petra has toured in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada with highlights including the Yardbird Suite (Edmonton, Canada), the Gorinchem Jazz Festival (the Netherlands' oldest jazz festival), and the Jazzhaus Heidelberg (Heidelberg, Germany). Inspired by such jazz vocal greats as Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, and Doris Day, Petra opts for a straightforward swinging delivery with an emphasis on feeling. Her approach is simple and without affectation. While steeped in tradition, she expresses her originality in the best sense of the word, by being true to herself. This sincerity is felt by audiences and musicians alike. Whenever she sings, Petra connects with people.
ERIC SCHNEIDER, alto saxophone/clarinet, was born and raised in the Chicago area and began his life-long musical journey studying piano at the tender age of six. Clarinet lessons started a few years later, and by fifteen, he took up the saxophone after hearing Charlie Parker. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Eric toured four years with Earl "Fatha Hines, and two years with Count Basie and his Orchestra (recording with both), He eventually returned to Chicago to embark on a richly diverse career that blends studio work, concert performances and jazz festivals, both in and out of town. Eric is a true “A list” player who is in constant demand on clarinet and saxophone by small groups and big bands that need a soloist who possesses both erudition and passion. He walks in the footsteps of the giants while expressing a vision that is entirely his own. Along the way. he's worked with a Who's Who of jazz, among them Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Billy Eckstine.
JOHN OTTO, tenor saxophone/clarinet, has performed and recorded with numerous well-known bands nationally and is a well-recognized expert in vintage jazz stylings. He is a full-time musician and a piano technician. John’s mother was an accomplished jobbing musician and his dad played trombone for fun and liked listening to big bands in the late 1930s. He had swing and jazz records collected in the closet, which John found most enticing upon discovery at a very early age.
John started learning piano in grade school and switched to clarinet upon entrance into junior high school. In high school, his musical mentor was Wellington Schiller, a full-time musician and teacher. Wellington would loan John his Red Nichols records, which had quite a profound impact on him by grooming his ear for melody and rhythm. Some additional instruction from the late well-known Carmen Dello helped set him up for success.
John’s first job was working in Bolingbrook, Illinois, at an amusement park called Old Chicago (an enclosed shopping mall with circus bands and traveling acts such as vaudeville shows) while in high school, but he quit to enroll in college. He met West End Jazz Band leader, Mike Bezin, at a jam session and soon after became a regular member of the band. Although John can play great jazz in many forms on clarinet and saxophone, his abilities in the hot dance category are supreme.
In addition to the Main Stem Orchestra, John currently performs with the Fat Babies and the Chicago Cellar Boys, and is in high demand as first call player within the traditional jazz and swing circuits.
BILL OVERTON, alto saxophone/clarinet, was born in Memphis and grew up immersed in the city’s blues, jazz and soul music. After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana, he moved to New York City where he performed with such artists as Mel Lewis, Doc Cheatham, Mickey Roker, Major Holley, Vic Dickinson, Rosemary Clooney, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, Howard Alden, Bo Diddley, the Temptations, the Spinners, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and many others. As an educator, Bill has taught at the Brooklyn Conservatory, William Patterson College, the Jamie Aebersold Jazz Clinics, Midwest Young Artists, and the Merit School. He has recorded extensively and has conducted jazz clinics, master classes and seminars throughout the U.S. and abroad. Bill and his family moved to Libertyville, Illinois, in 1998, where he taught band, guitar and music technology at Oak Grove School in Green Oaks, IL, while performing with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, his own quartet, at Ravinia with Seth MacFarlane, Bernadette Peters, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, and many others.
ED ENRIGHT, tenor and baritone saxophone, was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and has been performing professionally since 1981. The largely self-taught saxophonist learned the stylistic nuances of traditional big band music while performing with Chicago-area ensembles led by renowned educator Niel Dunlap and as a member of student jazz ensembles at University of Illinois–Urbana and Northwestern University. During his college years, Ed received Outstanding Performance awards at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival and the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival. Ed also has extensive experience as a professional jazz journalist and magazine editor, having worked for DownBeat, the world’s top jazz periodical, as an editor and contributing writer for more than 25 years. In addition to his magazine work, he co-edited the critically acclaimed books The Miles Davis Reader: Interviews and Features from DownBeat Magazine (Hal Leonard) and DownBeat–The Great Jazz Interviews: A 75th Anniversary Anthology (Hal Leonard). Ed holds a master’s degree from the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not playing jazz, listening to jazz or writing about jazz, Ed can be seen and heard performing with Chicago’s top rock and R&B bands, including Tributosaurus and Soul Vaccination. A multi-instrumentalist since childhood, Ed has frequently been spotted playing piano and singing at Chicago-area establishments such as Hugo’s Frog Bar and Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse.
MILES TESAR, tenor saxophone, cut his musical teeth with the likes of Billy Hart, Jimmy Heath and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra while he studied at Western Michigan University with Trent Kynaston. After his 1995 graduation, he spent more than 10 years playing sax, flute and clarinet on board Carnival cruise ships, performing a wide variety of music with such great entertainers as John Davidson, Frank Gorshin, Charo and Billy Armstrong. Since arriving in Chicago in 2007, Miles has appeared at some of Chicagoland’s premier jazz clubs, performed live radio broadcasts from the Green Mill and also played live on WGN-TV. In addition to his work the Main Stem Orchestra, Miles maintains an active teaching schedule as both a saxophone and jazz instructor.
ART DAVIS, trumpet, has been a long time player in the Chicago jazz scene. He is a charter member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, which has accompanied such notable musicians as Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Nancy Wilson, Ahmad Jamal, and many others. In addition to the Main Stem Orchestra, he is also currently playing with The Red Rose Ragtime Band, Petra Van Nuis' Recession Seven, and The Fumee Gypsy Jazz Project led by Christy Bennet. Art has also done tours with Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra. Art is also a jazz educator who is currently a professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb Illinois. Versatile in different styles of jazz, Art's interest in big band swing music goes back to his earliest experiences gigging with such greats as Les Elgart, Bob Crosby and Ray McKinley.
ANDY SCHUMM, trumpet, is a performer and arranger specializing in the jazz and popular music styles of the 1920’s and 30’s. He can be heard regularly with a variety of bands, such as the Fat Babies, the West End Jazz Band, the Red Rose Ragtime Band and the Salty Dogs. Andy also leads his own group, The Chicago Cellar Boys, which authentically interprets the music of Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, Frank Trumbauer, and the like. Andy and the Fat Babies perform a steady engagement at the Green Mill on Tuesday nights and have released records on both the Delmark and Rivermont labels. Led by the bassist Beau Sample, the band is a great example of what the younger generation is capable of producing. Schumm is the staff arranger with the group, and a driving force behind creating its unique sound.
A brilliant multi-instrumentalist, Andy is also active on saxophone, clarinet, drums, banjo, and just about everything else you throw his way. He collects original 78rpm records, old instruments, old sheet music, old arrangements, and anything that might help piece together the history of American popular music. His affinity for the 1920s has brought to many major jazz festivals throughout the world and paired him up with numerous important musicians on the stage. These include Vince Giordano, James Dapogny, David Boeddinghaus, Banu Gibson, Jim Cullum, Marty Grosz, Kim Cusack, Mike Walbridge (and all of the other Salty Dogs!), Josh Duffee, Keith Nichols, Michael McQuaid, and many others. He's even played with Leon Redbone from time to time. Mr. Schumm is also involved as an educator with the Archipelago Project, a non-profit brass group dedicated to bringing man-made music to the next generation. The group travels around the world, creating "islands" of sound musical philosophy, hence the name of the group.
JOSHUA JERN, trumpet, is a composer, arranger, and teacher living and working in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Oak Forest High School and received a B.A. in Trumpet Performance from Millikin University in Decatur, IL and an M.M. in Jazz Studies from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Joshua Jern has performed with numerous acts and ensembles, including the Buddy Rich Big Band, Florence Henderson, Patti Page, and several regional big bands. He has played for two Chicago mayors (Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley), current mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell. Josh has played public and private performances in countless venues throughout the area- the many theaters in the city and outlying suburbs, ballrooms of the wonderful hotels and convention centers on Michigan Avenue, and nightclubs in all parts of town such as Fitzgerald’s in the west suburbs and the famous Green Mill on the north side. An accomplished veteran of the orchestra pit, Joshua Jern has played for professional productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Mame, The Blues Brothers Reunion (produced by Dan Akroyd and the Belushi estate), Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Andrews Brothers, and Baby! in Chicago, as well as the national tour of A Christmas Story, the musical. No stranger to the recording studio setting, Joshua Jern has recorded in numerous studios throughout the Chicago-land area for many different musical projects.
RUSS PHILLIPS, trombone, was born in Denver, but grew up and studied music in the Chicago area. Surrounded by jazz at an early age, his father, Russ Phillips, Sr. actually performed as a trombonist in Louis Armstrong’s All Stars. Continuing in the tradition, Russ has become a well known, busy and respected performer in and around Chicago and nationally on the jazz festival circuit. Russ has performed with virtually every big band in Chicago, with small dixieland and jazz ensembles as leader or sideman in clubs like The Jazz Showcase, The Green Mill, Andy’s, Fitzgerald’s, Winter’s Jazz Club and many, many more. He’s been a featured artist in dozens of festivals, cruises and concerts where he’s performed with Howard Alden, Harry Allen, Doc Cheatham, Kenny Davern, The Four Freshman, Lionel Hampton, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Dick Hyman, Houston Person, Bucky Pizzarelli, Doc Severinsen, Allan and Warren Vache and many others. He has recorded three solo CD’s and appears on several others including four with John Sheridan’s Dream Band on the Arbors Jazz label.
STEVE DUNCAN, , trombone, is originally from southern Florida and first came to Illinois to study trombone performance and music theory at Northwestern University. After graduating, he spent the better part of a decade traveling with various big bands and Broadway show tours, playing venues from Seattle's Benaroya Hall to New York's Lincoln Center, and many more in between. Having settled permanently in Chicago, Steven currently performs with numerous local groups and in a wide variety of styles including classical chamber music, commercial jingles, pit work, big bands, and jazz ensembles. He also maintains an active teaching studio, works as a composer and arranger, and is still growing musically through meeting the many opportunities and challenges Chicago's vibrant music scene presents.