2024 Festival Jazz Clinicians

Dr. Steve Roach — TJF Director

Steve has been the Director of Jazz Studies at Sacramento State University since 2001. He has also served as Director of Jazz Studies at Baylor University and has held teaching positions at the University of Northern Colorado and Northern Illinois University. Steve’s duties at Sacramento State include directing large jazz ensembles, the Latin Jazz Ensemble, and teaching courses in jazz pedagogy and jazz history. In addition, Roach directs the annual Winter Jazz Festival and Trad Jazz Youth Band Festival at Sacramento State. Steve holds a Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree in trumpet performance from Northern Illinois University, and a Doctor of Arts degree in trumpet and jazz pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado. Professional appearances as an assisting artist by Roach include studio and live sessions with such jazz/pop musicians as Tito Puente, Louis Bellson, Conrad Herwig, Lou Rawls, Jon Tchicai, Ben Vereen, Melissa Manchester, Toni Tennille, Roberta Flack, Rosemary Clooney, Jeffrey Osbourne, Carl Fontana, Paquito D’Rivera, the Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, and others. Steve is currently serving on the Executive Board for the California Institute for the Preservation of Jazz and the Capital Section of the California Music Educators Association. Roach also works as a clinician and adjudicator for jazz festivals and workshops nationwide and has directed several California high school honor jazz ensembles including the Sacramento Capital Section Honor Jazz Band, the San Mateo Honor Jazz Band, the Fresno-Madera County Honor Jazz Band, and the Solano County High School Honor Jazz Ensemble. For more information on the Sacramento State Jazz Studies program, visit: https://www.csus.edu/college/arts-letters/music/jazz-studies.html

Adrian Cunningham – Featured Guest – Reeds

New York based and Australian born Adrian Cunningham is an award winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, and world traveler. With fluent command of the saxophones, clarinet, and flute, he is one of the finest multi-instrumentalists in jazz today.

In a career spanning two decades and counting, the “down under sax star” (Wall St Journal) has performed alongside luminaries such as Jon Batiste, Chris Potter and Wynton Marsalis, and has appeared as soloist in some of the world’s great stages including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Blue Note (New York and Toyko), Stravinsky Auditorium (Montreux Jazz Festival) and the Sydney Opera House.

Adrian is the recipient of the Hot House Saxophone Award (NYC), and his band Professor Cunningham and His Old School, is the winner of international band competition World Jam, (Madrid) and Best Band award at Harlem Festival (Vilnius, Lithuania).

Adrian’s discography as a leader are too numerous to be listed, however his most acclaimed recordings within the last decade include Jazz Speak (w/Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton, Ted Rosenthal) and Play Lerner and Loewe (w/Fred Hersh trio, Randy Brecker), both of which broke the top 20 in the national jazz charts.

Adrian is a regular member of trombonist Wycliffe Gordon’s quintet, featured at the London Jazz festival with a recording in Abbey Road studios alongside Wess Anderson, Reginald Veal and Herlin Riley. The quintet’s performances span the globe: London Jazz Festival, Johannesburg Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival, Bern Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Newport Jazz Festival; and regular performances in New York at the prestigious Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (Lincoln Center).

In 2013 Cunningham formed a tradtional/New Orleans style outfit called Professor Cunningham and His Old School has fast become one of the top bands in the international Swing scene, having performed at Blue Note Jazz Festival (NYC), Melbourne International Jazz Festival (Australia), Sopot Molo Jazz Festival (Poland), Snowball (Stockholm), SLOX (California), Blue Note Jazz Fest (NYC), CPH:LX (Copenhagen) and Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

From 2014-2017, Adrian was the leader of the saxophone section of the grammy-winning Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, a NYC based 1920’s swing orchestra; responsible for the soundtracks for Boardwalk Empire and movies including the Aviator.

Dr. Roach is pleased to announce the following outstanding clinicians for 2023 Festival (in alphabetical order):

Justin Au – Trumpet

Justin was introduced at a young age to a fun world of traditional jazz by his uncle Howard Miyata (trombone), and his older brothers Brandon (trombone) and Gordon (trumpet).  He is an alumnus of the former Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society’s jazz education programs and Rio Americano, one of the finest high-school jazz programs in the nation. Playing a variety of jazz styles, Justin has toured New York, Japan, Puerto Rico, China, and Brazil.  He has also played at jazz festivals all over the nation. 

While earning his Bachelor and Master degrees at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Justin served as co-director of the official youth band of the Basin Street Regulars Jazz Society in Pismo Beach, and has worked as a clinician with student musicians at the Teagarden Jazz Festival. As a passionate music educator, he taught after-school jazz programs in the San Juan and Sac City Unified school districts for 4 years and substitute-taught in music for 2 years, before becoming a fully-credentialed teacher in 2019. He currently serves as the Director of Jazz Ensembles for the Sacramento Youth Band (since 2018), and instrumental music teacher for Vacaville Unified School District (since 2019).

Justin can be heard regularly with such various groups as The Crescent Katz, Peter Petty, Harley White Jr. Orchestra, Jessica Malone, The West End Stompers, Element Brass Band, Katie Knipp, Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, Cap City Brass and the Cunha Big Band.

Clint Baker — Trumpet, Low Brass

Clint Baker is one of the few musicians to lead a traditional jazz band at the world-renowned Monterey Jazz Festival, joining the ranks of Louis Armstrong, Turk Murphy, and Jack Teagarden.  He has been a bandleader since 1984, and he produced his first record album in 1991. Since then, he has produced seven recordings including “In the Groove,” “Going Huge,” and “Tears.”

Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band appeared at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1992 and has toured festivals in the U.S. and Canada.

A multi-instrumentalist, Clint performs regularly with The Yerba Buena Stompers (tuba), The Delta Stompers (guitar/banjo), Hot Club of San Francisco (bass), The Cafe Borrone All-Stars (trumpet, trombone, drums, clarinet, guitar, etc.), The Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals (clarinet, trombone, and bass), The Ray Skjelbred Quartet/Ray Skjelbred and His Cubs (bass), The Grand Dominion Jazz Band (trumpet) and Usonia Jazz (various).

Clint is also a noted jazz educator. He taught on staff with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. He frequently guest lectures at San Mateo Community College and the Community School of Music and Arts at the Finn Center, and is currently an instructor at numerous adult jazz camps. He has been the Staff Archivist and Curator for the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation.

Katie Cavera – Bass/ Vocals

Katie Cavera has made a name for herself on the West Coast and in Europe playing 20’s and 30’s classic jazz. She is a rhythm guitar specialist in the style of Freddie Green and Al Casey. She also plays hot 20’s plectrum and tenor banjo; New Orleans style string bass; and sings in the 20’s pop style of Helen Kane and Ruth Etting. Originally from Southern Indiana, Katie attended Indiana University and studied jazz performance and composition with Dr. David Baker, playing with his Jazz Ensemble in a special presentation of Duke Ellington Masterworks at the Smithsonian Institution.

Her credits include working with Jug Band legend Jim Kweskin; Jim Cullum’s Jazz Band at The Landing in San Antonio, Texas; George Probert from the Firehouse 5 + 2; and members of Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band including Bob Helm, Leon Oakley, and Ray Skjelbred. From 2006 – 2009 she was part of the Jerome Savary production, “à la recherche de Josephine (Looking for Josephine)” a musical about New Orleans Jazz, Hurricane Katrina, and Josephine Baker. Katie played guitar and tenor banjo in the production, and notated the original score written by David Boeddinghaus. The musical premiered at the Opera Comique in Paris, France in the fall of 2006 and was nominated for a Molière Award (the national theatre award of France bestowed by APAT, the Association Professionnelle et Artistique du Théâtre and toured extensively through Austria, France, Germany and Spain from 2007 – 2009, and had its American premiere in Montclaire, New Jersey. 

In 2003 Katie began teaching banjo and guitar at the San Diego Adult Traditional Jazz Camp. She currently teaches at this yearly event as well as the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp which she has been a part of since 2009. Jazz critic Jim Leigh and bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Clint Baker have dubbed her the “California Sunshine Girl” because of her upbeat singing style and sunny stage personality. She currently works at Disney California Adventure as a bassist and vocalist with The Pixarmonic Orchestra which premiered this past summer at Disneyland’s Pixarfest. The band plays music from Pixar films in the style of Spike Jones. Katie is a member of ASCAP, a Loar Performing Artist, and a member of the Academy of Magical Arts.

Bill Dendle — Trombone/ Banjo

Bill began playing banjo in 1963, and by 1967 he performed at Mickie Finn’s in San Diego as leader of the South Market Street Jazz Band.  Bill was the lead banjoist at Capone’s Warehouse in Monterey for nine years. 1977 found Bill as an entertainment consultant, banjoist, trombonist, bandleader and entertainer at Florida’s Disney World, where he opened on the Empress Lilly Showboat.  In late 1977 he revived the South Market Street Jazz Band. From 1982 to 1995, Bill appeared as one-half of the duo called Goodtime Banjos.  Bill is is a lead clinician in the SacJEF Traditional Jazz Project. He plays trombone, guitar and banjo in Shelley Burns & Avalon Swing, and with Fast Eddie Erickson. Bill has performed with Bob Haggart, Bob Crosby, Johnny Varro, Dick Cary, Abe Most, Nick Fatool, Bob Draga and others. A retired Vice-Principal, Bill is the director of the annual Teagarden Trad Jazz Camp. In 2017, Bill was presented with the SacJEF Jazz Education Award at the TJF Showcase.

 Ron Jones — Drums

After Ron retired from playing drums with the US Air Force show bands for many years, he backed up such prime-time entertainers as Frankie Laine, Kay Starr, the Ink Spots, and Diahann Carroll.  Since he moved to Sacramento in the early 1980s, he’s played with many top West Coast jazz bands.  A member of the Youth Band Festival committee and a Past President of the STJS board of directors, Ron is a very popular drummer on the national jazz festival circuit and regularly performs with Sister Swing and the Draga Quartet. Ron and the TJF Clinicians Band were selected from a highly competitive field of applicants to present a performance at the first west coast convention of the national JEN (Jazz Education Network) in San Diego in 2015.

Marilyn Keller – Vocals

Marilyn T. Keller, 2016 Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame Inductee, is a 40-year veteran of music and stage performance in Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Pop, Blues, and theater, nationally and internationally. Her musical roots are diverse. Marilyn has built a career that has taken her as a feature artist to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Russia and the UK for concerts, festivals, nightclubs and recording work. Her voice can be heard on multiple recordings, movie soundtracks, commercials and documentaries. Marilyn’s formative jazz training was as a member of the Mt. Hood Community College Vocal Jazz Ensemble and as the vocalist fronting the award-winning MHCC Jazz Lab Band. She can be seen frequently at clubs, restaurants, festivals and holiday events throughout the Pacific Northwest. She remains active, performing with Don Latarski, Darrell Grant, Tom Grant, Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, Pressure Point Band and the Augustana Jazz Quartet, among many others.

Marilyn is dedicated to music education and is currently an Adjunct Professor at Portland State University, Oregon, teaching Vocal Jazz Improvisation.arilyn T. Keller, 2016 Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame Inductee, is a 4