2014 Folsom Jazz Festival Featured Performers

Donny McCaslin

Photo:  Nick Chao

Photo: Nick Chao

Donny McCaslin's father was a vibraphonist, and he played in his father's ensemble at the age of twelve. He had his own group in Aptos High School which played three years at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He studied under Paul Contos and Brad Hecht in the San Francisco region, both of whom played in his father's group. He played in a number of youth ensembles, most notably under the legendary band director and music educator Don Keller and toured Europe and Japan with them; he was offered a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, where he enrolled in 1984. While there he was influenced by Gary Burton, Herb Pomeroy, Billy Pierce, George Garzone, and Joe Viola. McCaslin performed regularly in Boston and Cambridge with The True Colors Big Band, run by composer Ken Schaphorst. In 1987 he joined Burton's group and toured the world with him for four years.

In 1991 he moved to New York City and was a member of Steps Ahead until 1994, replacing Michael Brecker. He also played with the Gil Evans Orchestra, the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Danilo Perez, Maria Schneider, and Santi DeBriano. In 1996 he played on Ken Schaphorst's Uprising, alongside John Medeski, Doug Yates, and Uri Caine. The following year he played with David Binney, Scott Colley, and Kenny Wolleson on the collaboration Lan Xang. In 2006 he joined the Dave Douglas Quintet. In 2010 he recorded as a featured soloist on the CD Coming Through Slaughter - The Bolden Legend. His first record as a leader appeared in 1998, and he has continued issuing releases under his own name.

Brian Lynch

Brian Lynch's performance is sponsored by Yamaha.

Brian Lynch's performance is sponsored by Yamaha.

A vital force and emergent legend within both the hardcore straight ahead and Latin Jazz communities, Grammy© Award Winner and Yamaha Artist Brian Lynch is as comfortable negotiating the complexities of clave with Afro-Caribbean pioneer Eddie Palmieri as he is swinging through advanced harmony with bebop maestro Phil Woods. A honored graduate of two of the jazz world’s most distinguished academies, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet, he has been a valued collaborator with jazz artists such as Benny Golson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Charles McPherson; Latin music icons as diverse as Hector LaVoe and Lila Downs; and pop luminaries such as Prince. As a bandleader and recording artist he has released 19 critically acclaimed CDs featuring his distinctive composing and arranging, and toured the world with various ensembles reflecting the wide sweep of his music. He currently is Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Frost School Of Music, University of Miami as well as conducting clinics, residencies and workshops at prestigious institutions of learning the world over. His talents have been recognized by top placing in the Downbeat Critics and Readers Polls (#3 Trumpet 2011 Critics Poll); highly rated reviews for his work in Downbeat, Jazziz and Jazz Times; 2005 and 2007 Grammy award nominations, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and Meet The Composer.

The Commanders

The Commanders, a newly-revived ensemble coming from the US Air Force Band of the Golden West, carries on the American musical tradition of the great big bands, yet offers a lot more than the big band sounds. This energetic group of highly-trained professional musicians, formed from 18 Airmen, delivers the full gamut of jazz music - traditional jazz, cool, bop, swing, Broadway favorites, and patriotic music. The Commanders offers an entertaining show you won't soon forget! 

A typical evening with The Commanders might include favorites from Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Count Basie, and Dizzy Gillespie to the sounds of today's modern jazz groups delivered by the group's enchantingly talented vocalist. Their renditions of hot jazz feature rousing improvised solos from every instrument in the group. This is an ensemble capable of delivering a truly unique combination of entertainment. 

In addition to enjoyable community concerts and jazz festivals, the group visits colleges and schools throughout the region, inspiring future generations of musicians and connecting with youth. 

The band has just released a new CD that is available on CD Baby for FREE!

The Commanders are ready to charge you up with a fun-filled event that will satisfy every musical taste! 

George Stone

George Stone has been involved in music education for 24 years.

He teaches Audio Technology, Music Theory and Composition at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA. He was given the Outstanding Academic Employee and Teacher of the Year award to acknowledge his numerous contributions to students, faculty and the music department at Cuesta College. 

His 22-year career as a festival adjudicator and clinician has included the CMEA, CBDA, SCSBOA organizations and literally hundreds of jazz festivals throughout the country. His clinician talents and musical awareness are recognized as being one of the best in music education today. George has earned a long-standing and well-built reputation of being a problem solver with ensembles of any size and skill level. 

George has been guest composer/conductor for all levels of jazz honor bands. As a composer he has been commissioned to write for numerous nationally recognized high school and college programs. His compositions and arrangements are published and performed worldwide. 

Prior to education, George worked as a musician and composer for live shows and television and has composed for CBS, NBC, HBO, The Tonight Show and Disney. He is an in-demand recording engineer, producer, trumpet player and pianist. His latest recording entitled THE REAL DEAL and newly published charts can be found at his website www.georgestonemusic.com.


American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble

The Ensemble

The American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Arthur Lapierre has been in existence for 17 years. American River College is a two-year institute of learning in the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, California. During this time the Vocal Jazz Ensemble has received 9 DownBeat Student Achievement. The ensemble has appeared before IAJE in Toronto, New York, and Long Beach; JEN in New Orleans; and, ACDA in Tucson and Chicago. The ensemble has recorded 9 CDs available for purchase or for your listening enjoyment at http://ic.arc.losrios.edu/%7Evocaljazz/.


Arthur Lapierre is director of vocal jazz ensembles at American River College in Sacramento, California. Dr. Lapierre’s ensembles have appeared before IAJE, ACDA, CMEA, NYSSMA, MMEA, SCVA, and are the recipients of 11 DownBeat Student Achievement Music Awards. Most recently Dr. Lapierre directed the Colorado All-State Jazz Choir. While directing Berklee’s vocal jazz ensemble Dr. Lapierre also served as director of the Boston Grammy in Our Schools Jazz Choir and as the ACDA Eastern Division Jazz/Show Choir R/S Chair.