These are the legendary musicians who made the Swinging Years swing when they played with America's top bands.
JOHNNY VANA (Leader/Percussionist)
Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Johnny Vana won his first amateur show playing drums at the age of 2 ½. He later sat in with Glenn Miller's Band at the ripe old age of 4. Johnny studied with Gene Krupa, Bobby Christian, Roy Knapp and Frankie Rullo. At the age of 12, he toured with the Horace Heidt Show/Orchestra and was a member of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra at age 14. His credits have only sky-rocketed since then. He has been featured with the orchestras of Les and Larry Elgart, Harry James, Sammy Kaye, Richard Malthy, Buddy Morrow and The Tonight Show Band. He has backed numerous musical artists including: Peggy Lee, The Letterman, Bette Midler, George Burns, Anita Bryant, The Ink Spots, Jerry Lewis, and many others. Johnny has also toured and appeared on various television shows, movies, and commercials including: Life Goes On, For The Boys, Beaches, Gypsy, All I Want For Christmas and The Wedding Singer.
RON SMITH (Trombone)
Ron Smith's credits include working with such stars as Les Brown, Nelson Riddle, Tex Beneke, Buddy Morrow, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman.
ROBBY ROBINSON (Trombone)
He played with the best, including Billy May, Freddy Martin and Tex Beneke, just to name a few.
LON NORMAN (Trombone/Arranger)
Lon began his very active professional career as a musician in 1956 when he joined the Herbie Fields band as lead trombonist. From 1964 through 1966, he played lead trombone and arranged for the Sammy Spear Orchestra on the Jackie Gleason Show. In 1967, Lon moved to Los Angeles where he has established himself as a topflight arranger and instrumentalist. His credits include scores for shows at the Desert Inn, Stardust and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and the Lido in Paris, as well as numerous movies and television shows. The long list of luminaries he has written for includes Sammy Davis, Ray Charles, Don Costa, Aretha Franklin and Patti Page. Lon was the conductor for the orchestra for the Academy Awards and the Governor's Ball in 1999 and 2000.
JACK FEIERMAN (Trumpet)
He has been Musical Conductor for Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Sergio Mendez, Jose Feliciano, Paul Anka, The Osmonds, The Lennon Sisters, Frank Sinatra, and Natalie Cole, among others. He has also conducted or played trumpet for television, movies and recordings, and as a professional trumpet player, has played with such name bands as Billy May, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Count Basie. For 22 years, Mr. Feierman has been Musical Director for Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.
JOHN FICK (Trumpet)
His credits include playing with the Alvino Rey Orchestra, and the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Glenn Miller Tribute Orchestra and the Harry James Orchestra. He has backed up numerous vocalists including Jack Jones, Helen O'Connell, the Four Lads, the Four Aces, the Mills Brothers, The Platters, and many more. John currently plays with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra as well as leading his own band, the Southern California Jazz Company.
FRED KOYEN (Trumpet)
Mr. Koyen began playing professionally in 1958 when he worked with Les Elgart until late 1959. He then worked with Si Zentrier and recorded on his hit record "UP A LAZY RIVER." One of many highlights in Fred's life was in 1962, when he began working with Harry James. Buddy Rich was also in the band and Fred worked with them for four years. Another highlight was touring and recording with the Beach Boys in 1968. But, that's just the beginning. Fred then started working with Les Brown in 1969 and performed in the last four tours to Vietnam with Bob Hope. Also, working with Les Brown offered him the chance to perform on all of the Bob Hope television specials. Other highlights include working with Jerry Gray, Stan Kenton and Dean Martin. Fred still performs with Les Brown band, which is now led by Les Brown, Jr.
JOHN SETAR (Alto Sax, Flute, Clarinet)
John Setar has Musical Directed and played with the best. His big band credits include working with Jess Stacey (with Lee Wiley), Buddy Morrow, Freddy Martin, Jerry Gray, Tex Beneke, Bob Crosby, Billy Vaughn, Bill Tole, Rene Bolch and Johnny Martinez, just to name a few. He has also worked on many television shows including: Steve Allen, Andy Williams, Mac Davis, Rockford Files, Incredible Hulk, Magnum P.I., The A Team, and Black Sheep Squadron. John has also worked on The People's Choice Awards (2 years), the Director's Guild Awards (3 years), Bob Hope's 7th Birthday Special and President Carter's Pre-Inauguration Television Special.
IRA SCHULMAN (Tenor & Baritone Sax, Woodwinds)
His credits include working with Bob Crosby, Woody Herman, Bill Russo and Don Ellis
LARRY COVELLI (Tenor Sax, Clarinet)
Larry Covelli has worked with such legends as Billy May, Woody Herman, Freddy Martin, Harry James, Al Hirt, Chuck Mangione and Louie Belson.
ETHMER ROTEN (Alto Sax, Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet)
He played numerous record dates with outstanding vocalists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Jack Jones, andy Williams, Nancy Sinatra, Doris Day, Dinah Shore and Lena Horne. He has also performed in orchestrations for more than 500 television shows including The Great Mouse Detective, Sunset, Spartacus, Dr. Zhivago, Charlotte's Web, Pete's Dragon, Fantasia, Mary Poppins, Lassie, and The Thornbirds.
LARRY DOUGHERTY (Tenor, Baritone Sax & Clarinet)
He has performed with such legendary greats as Glenn Miller, Claude Gordon, Jimmy Dorsey, Kay Kaiser, Gus Bivona and Alvino Rey.
DAVE PELL (Tenor & Baritone Sax)
Dave Pell started an octet after playing with most of the bands in the big band era, including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and the like, he was a featured star of the Les Brown Band of Renown for 13 years.
The Dave Pell Octet was one of the bands credited with the creation of the West Coast Jazz scene in the 1950's.
AL VESCOVO (Guitar)
Al Vescovo has performed with Stan Kenton, Tex Beneke, Spike Jones, Ray Anthony and Billy May, just to name a few.
BARNEY LIDDELL (Trombone)
Mr. Liddell believes that it was fate that led him to be the great trombonist he is today. Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, Barney began his playing at Lou Wallace High School where he had aspirations to become the next Jimmy Dorsey on the alto sax. But, he found to his chagrin, that the high school band was out of saxophones. Second choice was the trumpet. But there were no trumpets either! The only instrument available at the time, was the trombone. He found to his amazement, that the trombone was a natural for him. Since then, he has played with established jazz notables Sid Catlett, Billy Holiday, J.C. Higginbotham, Red Allen and Tony Scott's Quintet. While performing with Elliott Lawrence's band, Lawrence Welk heart him, liked his style, and provided an opening for the young trombonist in February of 1948. He began his long career as the trombonist for The Lawrence Welk Show. Lawrence Welk has said: "Barney si one fo the finest men, with one of the biggest hearts I've ever known."
JIM AMLOTTE (Trombone)
Jim's credits include playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Frankie Carle Orchestra, the Hugo Montengro Orchestra, the Freddy Martin Orchestra and the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. He has recorded with Stan Kenton, Hugo Montengro, The Four Freshmen, June Christy, Ray Conniff, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Anthony, The Rightous Brothers, Kenny Rogers, and many others. His television credits include: I Dream Of Jeanie, Here Comes The Brides, Bewitched, The Flying Nun, The Partridge Family, and the Lola Falana Show.
HOWARD "HOTSY" KATZ
He has performed with many of the greats, including: Buddy Rich, Hal McIntyre, Charlie Ventura, Howard McGee and Stan Kenton.
GEO VALLE (Bass)
In addition to playing with The Alumni Association, Geo Valle plays for
the Laker's Band.
WILLIAM (Billy) CASILLI
LINDA SWEET ( Bass Trombone)
She has performed with Ray Anthony, Ray Stevens, Paul Anka and Harry James
BILL MARLES (Piano)
He has played with Will Osborne, Will Bradley, Sammy Davis, Dick Haymes
NANCY OSBORNE (vocalist)
Vocalist Nancy Osborne began her career at seventeen singing with "The Young Americans," appearing at Disneyland. Nancy recently was the female vocalist with the Tex Beneke Orchestra and is currently the Orchestra vocalist with The Alumni Association.
comes to the Big Band Alumni after being "discovered" by it's female vocalist Nancy Osborne while performing in Westlake Village. His Quartet regularly performs at "The Grove" in Hollywood as well as many special events including venues like the famed "Beverly Hills Hotel." As a solo act he has performed for the City Of Brentwood, Santa Monica, and Calabasas to name a few. Grateful to be in the group Ned loves to swing with the Alumni.