Bios

Lisa Anderson: Vocalist Lisa has been singing music of just about every genre her entire life. Her repertoire includes sacred music, opera, Chanson, lieder, jazz and blues. She moved to Minnesota in 1986 to complete her PhD in physiology but was continually searching for musical opportunities. The Twin Cities turned out to a wonderful environment for her to hone her jazz singing while pursuing a teaching career at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Lisa’s singing has been influenced by the likes of Lena Horne, Carmen McCrae and Sarah Vaughn. Lisa and her quartet released their first CD Spring of 2012. She joined the LaValle Jazz family in April 2014 where she has been singing swinging arrangements of the American Songbook with the "cats" ever since.

Linda Aronson: Bari Sax Linda plays bari sax in the Jazz Cats, but she is most often seen playing lead alto or soprano sax in the Star of the North Concert Band and the Seward Concert Band. She also leads the DaCapo Sax Quartet. Linda has participated in the LaValle Jazz Bands since 2003 with the BBB Jazz Orchestra and also the Andrew Walesch Big Band. Her current day gig is with Siemens, working as a software quality engineer, but is looking forward to retirement in December, and we hope this will mean more time for music in 2019!

Kurt Christianson: Lead Trumpet Kurt has been active on the Twin Cities Jazz scene for over 30 years, most notably with the Century Jazz Ensemble where he has had the privilege to perform with some of the world's best jazz artists such as Clark Terry, Bill Watrous, Condoli, Bobby Shew, Randy Brecker, and many more. He is also a member of a New Orleans style brass band, The Dirty Shorts and the White Bear Big Band and plays trumpet in the 3 horn groups, the 7 Cats Swing and Swing Cats when needed. His day gig is a Real Estate Agent.

George Henly: Trombone George came to play trombone later in life, after realizing, belatedly, that nobody was likely to ask him to play French horn in their jazz ensemble. His brass playing experience includes college and community bands, community theater, church music, and jazz ensembles of all sizes. His day jobs focused on educational and psychological measurement where he made good use of his PhD. Dr George joined the LaValle Jazz groups to play trombone in the Andrew Walesch Big Band, and then after hearing his smooth trombone sound, he was recruited into the Swing Cats, 7 Cats Swing, and The LaValle Jazz Little Big Band.

Dr. Charles Kemper: Pianist, Vocalist, Director Charles holds degrees in piano performance from University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, University of Houston and a PhD from Yale University. Dr. Charles has performed internationally as a classical soloist, collaborative pianist and jazz musician, is organist for Calvary Church in Roseville, and was the accompanist for VocalEssence for twenty-two years. He currently arranges music and performs with the Ebony, Ivory and Spruce Trio for clarinet, piano and violin. In 2010, Charles joined the LaValle Jazz family and has played an important role in it’s growth.

Dean LaValle: Sound Engineer: Dean has provided sound support for LaValle Jazz for 17 years. He has provided continuous support for the bands with his expertise and equipment, mixing, and recording and enjoyed working with the amazing talent who have participated in our bands. Dean has recently retired from his career as a robotics software engineering fellow at PaR after 47 years.

Kathi LaValle: Tenor Sax and Manager Kathi has played tenor sax for 55 years, participating in concert and community bands until her introduction to Jazz in 2001 when fellow employees at The Trane Company pulled a Big Band together to participate in fund raisers for 9-11 victims. Since then, Kathi and her husband Dean, have facilitated several groups including the BBB Jazz Orchestra, the 7 Cats Swing, The Andrew Walesch Big Band, The Swing Cats Septet and the Swing Cats Quartet. When they are not performing at parks, parties, or community events, they stay busy playing at Senior facilities around town, entertaining those who don’t have the ability to get out to hear the American Songbook classics. Kathi also plays in the Star of the North Concert Band and the DaCapo Sax Quartet and played with Paul Mazzacano in the Maple Grove Jazz Ensemble.

Steve Lewis: Drummer Steve studied jazz music and drumming at the Shell Lake Arts Center, later teaching for over 10 years at the Center as one of the drum instructors. He has played drums professionally for over 40 years, working in his earlier years in the show band for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and American Hawaii Cruises where he worked with Robert Goulet and Rosemary Clooney. More recently Steve has enjoyed playing in jazz and rock groups, as well as performing both drums and other percussion for a number of churches. His day gig is managing the recruiting for Hearth & Home Technologies and teaching Human Resource Information Systems in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Steve joined the LaValle Jazz groups after meeting Kathi at the Shell Lakes Arts Center while teaching at an adult weekend big band camp.

Rich Manik: Lead Sax Rich is a freelance musician, arranger and recording artist living in the Twin Cities. He performs on all woodwinds and keyboard with many local and national artists in a variety of musical styles from symphonic to contemporary popular music. Some of the pop artists Rich has performed with include The Temptations, The Four Tops and Kenny Rodgers and has had the opportunity to perform with some well-known jazz musicians such as Clark Terry, and Jack McDuff. Rich has extensive experience performing and touring with productions of The 1940’s Radio Hour and A Little Night Music. He continues to tour with local and national artists, participate in recording sessions for radio and television, pit orchestras and perform as a featured guest artist / clinician and conductor. Some recent performances include; 18th Annual So the World May Hear Gala with Grace VanderWaal, the Twin Cities Jazz Fest, Lower Town Funk and Blues Festival & Rainy Days and Mondays; A Tribute to the Music of The Carpenters. Rich also teaches music at a variety of colleges and universities including St. Cloud State University, The Institute for Production and Recording & Western Wyoming Community College. Rich holds a BM in Jazz Performance from Duquesne University and a Master of Music degree from Boston University. Rich has been sharing his talent with LaValle Jazz since 2011, covering the lead sax position in her Jazz Cats Little Big Band, bringing the group to new levels!

Dan Theobald: Trumpet Dan is an extremely busy, and talented trumpet player participating as a member or alternate in more than 12 different Jazz, swing and Dixieland bands. He’s played in the Roseville big band for 17 years and has been playing with the LaValle Jazz bands for 14 years, including the BBB Jazz Orchestra, the Andrew Walesch Big Band, the Swing Cats and the 7 Cats Swing. Dan is a member of the White Bear Big Band, The Good News Big Band, Swing and a Miss, Twin Cities Jazz Cats, Maple Street Ramblers, Roseville Lutheran Jazz, New Life Jazz, The Stone Arch Jazz Band, to name a few. He also enjoys playing in pit bands including Lakeshore Players, Heritage Players, and other community theaters.

Mike Wobig: Bass Mike started playing bass in 10th grade in the garage band Purple Haze. He studied music theory from Doc Z at Lakewood Community College. He played in club bands Sweet Thing and Inside Straight in the late seventies. Mike played bass in the Roseville Big Band for 25 years, where he enjoyed jazz and swing. He joined the LaValle Jazz groups in 2003 and covered bass in BBB Jazz Orchestra, the Andrew Walesch Big Band, 7 Cats Swing band. the Swing Cats and the Jazz Cats Little Big Band. He has taken a break from his busy schedule every year for the last 20 years to play in the pit band for the St Agnes theater and also enjoys playing in a jazz combo called the Friday Project.