I am genuinely thrilled with the talent presented through the Ensemble. Although I am the leader, I also am learning from the excellent musicians who are bringing the notes I write—and those of others—to life. I have built the music and the program on the premise that through teaching and learning from each other, we can produce sounds and forms that are interesting, inventive and immensely satisfying to listeners. For me the process of playing together over time is at least as important as playing a concert.
The following performer bios include details and links for Ensemble members. I encourage you to read further and learn more about each of these highly skilled musicians.
Leigh Daniels began his career in music in high school, playing harmonica and bass in a blues group. He came to Ann Arbor in 1975, to study music at the University of Michigan Residential College. As a student, Daniels was influenced by Jane Heirich, then the head of the residential college music program. He also studied composition with William Bolcom, recently retired Pulitzer Prize-winning faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Music. For the past five years, Daniels has studied composition and arranging with pianist Tad Weed.
George Davidson grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He started his musical career tap dancing at the tender age of eight. He studied percussion in middle school with Fred Paxon. In high school he was fortunate enough to continue his studies with the great Rex T. Hall and, briefly, with James Thurston at Wayne State University.
George's career afforded him the opportunity of traveling throughout the world. He has worked and performed with the giants of Motown such as The Four Tops, The Supremes, and many others. He went on to work with numerous Jazz, Pop, and Blues artists: Aretha Franklin, Paul Butterfield, Spanky Wilson, Leon Thomas, Eddie Russ, Eddie Harris, Dorothy Donagan, Tribe, Kirk Lightsey, Rodney Whitaker, Geri Allen, Rufus Harly, Teddy Edwards, Dr. Donald Byrd, The Michigan Jazz Masters and many others.
Buddy Budson has been playing jazz piano around the Detroit area for the past 48 years, beginning at local clubs at the age of fifteen. In 1973, Buddy joined drummer Buddy Rich's big band, toured England, Australia, and the United States, and recorded an album with the band. Soon after, Buddy toured with both guitarist Earl Klugh and the Motown group, The Four Tops. He has also backed well-known performers including Henry Mancini, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marlena Shaw, Charles McPherson, and Steve Turre. When the Fox Television Network debuted in the late '80's Buddy composed and arranged the theme song and much of the transitional music for the sitcom, Duet. He has also done vocal and instrumental arrangements for big band and orchestra. Buddy is married to noted Detroit vocalist, Ursula Walker, and together they perform at clubs and concerts throughout the Detroit metro area. They have also given many clinics at Detroit-area schools and the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. Buddy is the recipient of a Metro Times Jazz Award and the Detroit Metro Area Musicians and Entertainers Association Teddy Harris, Jr. Legendary Award. To learn more about Buddy, visit his website at www.ursulaandbuddy.net.
Since earning a degree in music performance from Wayne State University, Nancy Chaklos Millen has been an active performer throughout Southest Michigan, Ohio and Ontario. Nancy has been heard playing with many symphony orchestras including those of Flint, Toledo, Windsor and Ann Arbor. She is a founding member of the chamber music groups Amici Strings and New Dimensions String Quartet, which specializes in popular music of the 20th century. As a member of the Fisher and Masonic Theater orchestras, Nancy perfomed locally for the National tour of many Broadway shows including Lion King, The Producers, Aida, Ragtime, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. She has also performed onstage with a wide variety of music legends and national acts including The Three Tenors, Dizzy Gillespie, David Byrne, Peter Cetera, Lyle Lovett, Rod Stewart, Henry Mancini, Smokey Robinson and Burt Bacharach, to name a few. Nancy currently lives in Berkley with her family.
Rob Pipho, one of the most respected names in Jazz to come out of Detroit, has been playing professionally for almost 30 years. During that time, he has recorded with many well known artists, including: Pianist Kirk Lightsey, Violinist Regina Carter, Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Saxophonist Donald Walden, Saxophonist Wendell Harrison, Drummer Roy Brooks, Bassist Rodney Whitaker, Frank Zappa Bassist Ralphe Armstrong, Lenny Kravitz, Drummer Cindy Blackman, Trombonist SteveTurre and many others ... In addition, he has performed live with all of the above artists, along with many others, including: Freddie Hubbard, James Carter, Rick Margitza, David Fathead Newman, Tim Ries, Ira Sullivan, Larry Fuller, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Hurst, Jeff Tain Watts, Geri Allen, Andrew Speight, Art Van Damme, Kariem Riggins, Ted Curson, Warren Chaisson and many others. Rob is on the Music Faculty at Wayne State University. He plays vibraphone, Glockenspiel and piano, and teaches jazz theory, function and harmony to students of all instruments. He also writes music for industrial projects for clients ranging from radio stations to automobile companies. He plays festivals and concerts worldwide, as well as private and corporate events.
Leslie DeShazor began playing the viola at the age of ten and knew that it would always have a place in her life. At age 11 she began her private studies with Dr. Melissa Gerber and went on to study with Professor Yizhak Schotten at the University of Michigan. Leslie has performed as a soloist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. She has a very diverse musical background playing classical, jazz, R&B, gospel, West African, latin, rock and pop music.
Terry Kimura attended the University of Michigan and studied with H. Dennis Smith, David Jackson, and the late Donald Walden. He has since taken part in various local groups such as the Paul Keller Orchestra and Ensemble, the II-V-I Orchestra, and the Easy Street Jazz Band. In the last year, Terry has performed with the Harry James Orchestra under the direction of Fred Radke, the Temptations, Everett Longstreth’s Benny Goodman Tribute Band, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Learn more about Terry Kimura’s work at www.pkorecords.com.
Finnish-born, internationally recognized cellist Katri Ervamaa is a versatile performer who specializes in chamber music and creative improvisation. Her groups include the Muse string trio, Brave New Works new music ensemble (bravenewworks.org) and E3Q, a genre-defying trio with her husband Mark Kirschenmann and percussionist Michael Gould (blockmrecords.org). She has also recorded with Andrew Bishop's Hank Williams Project (envoyrecordings.com) and Ed Sarath’s Timescape. Katri is on faculty at University of Michigan’s Residential College, where she is the head of the music program. She is a mother of three and lives in Ann Arbor, MI with her family.
Born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan, Judith Teasdle graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and completed her Bachelor of music at Oakland University. She then earned a Master’s in violin performance at Michigan State University. A private instructor for over 15 years, Judith now teaches in Oakland University’s Preparatory Division. An avid chamber musician, she also freelances with numerous orchestras including the Warren, Dearborn, Saginaw, Ann Arbor, and Flint symphonies. Judith lives with her husband and 3 cats in Dearborn.
Brad Phillips, violin & mandolin, studied Jazz & Improvisation at the University of Michigan graduating in 2007. His expertise ranges from bluegrass, to celtic, new acoustic, pop, country, and classical. Brad is most known in Ann Arbor for his performances with the progressive celtic fusion band Millish, as well as his position of Assistant Artistic Director for the Saline Fiddlers. Brad is also known for his acclaimed private fiddle studio, and has taught at the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camps, and at the International Academy of Music in Pilsen, CZ. Learn more about Brad Phillips' work at www.myspace.com/bradphillipsmusic.
Singer, songwriter, voice teacher, board-certified music therapist, and in training to become an Alexander Technique teacher, Kathy Moore is an award winning vocalist (two-time WEMU Jazz Competition winner). Her new CD, Across Time, has already earned her the "Gold Artist" designation from Indy Radio. "The most repeated comment I hear from listeners of the CD is that people just can’t decide which song they like the best!" Kathy is very happy to be joining Jazz Constellation's stellar group of musicians, developing the use of voice as an instrument, adding percussion, and singing great melodies and lyrics. Learn more about Kathy Moore's work at www.kathymooremusic.com.
Sean Dobbins got his start when he would regularly play with Blue Note artist Louis Smith. Though still young by jazz standards, he has amassed an impressive list of playing companions which includes such greats as Benny Golson, David "Fathead" Newman and Mose Allison. A product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Sean has stayed devoted to education throughout his life and is known in his community as a band director, drum teacher and positive influence for many.
Glenn Tucker is an accomplished jazz pianist, reed player, composer, and arranger from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attends the University of Michigan and studies with Geri Allen, Andrew Bishop, and Ellen Rowe, among others. At the age of 18, he has already worked with many of area's finest jazz musicians, including Paul Keller, Vincent York, Claude Black, James Dapogny, George Davidson, Sean Dobbins, and Kelly Broadway. He leads a 13-piece big band called the Cool Moose Orchestra, which performs monthly at the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor.
Emma Quackenbush has a Masters Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Michigan and a Performance diploma from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music. She is a gifted cellist who received a Full Tuition Fellowship from U of M and a TSAI Fellowship for the Aspen Music Festival and School for both 2006 and 2007.