Kathi LaValle: Tenor Saxophonist and Manager Kathi has played tenor sax for more than 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 Jazz Orchestra and played with Paul Mazzacano in the Maple Grove Jazz Ensemble.

Dr. Charles Kemper: Pianist, Vocalist, and 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. In 2010, Charles joined the LaValle Jazz family and has played an important role in it’s growth.

Rich Manik: Lead Saxophonist 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 the Jazz Cats Little Big Band, bringing the group to new levels!

Joe Steinger: Percussionist Joe began his performance career with Little Bobby E and The Night Owls in the 1990s. As an original member of Café Accordion Orchestra for the past 25 years, he played gigs in Vienna, Austria and at Lincoln Center in New York City, and continues performing regularly around town including several appearances at the Minnesota State Fair. He also plays in Jazz Savvy, a jazz trio which is a favorite band for corporate and party gigs, and with Dorothy Doring and Swingin' On A Star, a favorite of the local swing dancer scene. Joe also spent many years in the record business which brought him from Kansas City to the Twin Cities over 30 years ago. Joe currently enjoys playing music full time after paying his dues as a car mechanic. Ask him about his vinyl jazz record collection.

Dean LaValle: Sound Engineer Dean has provided sound support for LaValle Jazz since 2001. 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.

Alternate Musicians

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.

Terry Peffer: Saxophonist Terry can be seen performing with Twin Cities groups “The Good, Bad & Funky” (, “Ignite Contemporary Worship Group” on Sunday evenings at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Brighton, MN, the “St. Croix Jazz Orchestra”, and the “Star of The North Jazz Orchestra” and is a freelance musician locally and around the United States. He is currently an Independent Insurance Broker with certifications in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. Terry has spent the last 20+ years as a Territory Sales Account Manager and Customer Service Specialist in the Twin Cities market. Terry is truly blessed by having a very loving family that includes his beautiful wife of 21 years, Nathalie, daughter Ereka (18 years old) and son Jason (15 years old) and fun-loving terrier, Toby. He spends his free time attending his kid’s many activities as well as staying active playing tennis and golf.

Mark Syman: Trumpetist and flugelhornist Mark played trumpet through college, and then put the horn in the closet for 20 years until a student in his high school class asked, "Mr Syman, would you want to play in a jazz combo with me?" Since then, Mark has studied trumpet with Steve Strand for almost 20 years. Mark plays with the Century Jazz Ensemble, where he has gotten to rub elbows with guest artists like Randy Brecker, Steve Davis, Ed Calle, and Butch Miles. He founded and manages the St. Croix Jazz Orchestra, a professional jazz orchestra out of Stillwater. He has his own small group, the Vintage Jazz Quintet and Trio, and he plays in community jazz groups including the Roseville Big Band. Mark has been playing in LaValle jazz groups for ten years. His wife is a pianist and vocalist, and their two kids are jazz musicians and music educators.

Keith Schweitzer: Bassist Keith