Jazz in the Park

Jazz in the Park
Artist Schedule and Bios

This season Jazz in the Park will take place again at the beautiful Millennium Park just southwest of downtown. WMJS has secured a total of 10 event dates where the community and visitors alike, can come together and listen to the classic sounds of America’s original genre of music….Jazz!

These concerts would not be possible without our sponsors, donors, and supporting members of WMJS. Donations can be made online, by mail, at the concerts in cash, or contactless via PayPal paypal.me/wmichjazz.

Millennium Park
The Meadows Amphitheater
1415 Maynard Ave SW
Walker, MI 49534

June 12th
West Ottawa HS Jazz I

Big Band directed by Mike Hamman

West Ottawa High School Jazz I regularly participates in Central Michigan University’s Jazz Weekend, the MSU Spartan Spectacular Essentially Ellington Competition and MSBOA State Jazz Festival as well as performances around our school district and in the community. Jazz I has received recognition for Outstanding Soloists, Sections and Ensemble several times at CMU. Jazz I has hosted and performed with several guest artists: Wycliffe Gordon , Jon Faddis, Wess Anderson, the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Rodney Whitaker, Marcus Printup, Carl Allen, Cris Crenshaw, Victor Goines, Eric Reed, Sean Jones, Reggie Thomas, Robin Eubanks, Etienne Charles, Antonio Hart, Todd Williams, Paul Keller, and Sammy Miller and the Congregation.

June 19th
Juneteenth Celebration - Houston Patton Quartet

Houston Patton - Saxophone

Dylan Sherman - Bass

Ivan Akansiima - Piano

Stephen Oduro - Drums

Houston Patton is an up-and-coming jazz musician, born and raised in the Metro Detroit area. Following in the footsteps of his father, Houston began playing the saxophone at a very young age. Under the mentorship and tutelage of saxophonists such as Harry Patton, Daryl Beebe, Jordan Vanhemert, Wendell Harrison, and Andrew Bishop, Houston has explored many genres ranging from gospel to hard bop.

Most notably, Houston often performs with Kevin Jones & Tenth World, and a host of Detroit and West Michigan Groups. Fresh out of his time spent in New York, Houston was able to perform with Winard Harper, and also with J.C Hopkins at Mintons Playhouse.

Currently, Houston is studying Jazz Saxophone at the University of Michigan and is preparing for much more in the future. At 21 he is getting ready to take the world by storm!

June 26th
Andrew Rathbun Quartet

Andrew Rathbun - saxophones

Matthew Fries - piano

Carlo DeRosa - bass

Keith Hall - drums

Saxophonist, composer, and Toronto native Andrew Rathbun has achieved a rare depth of lyricism and compositional intelligence in 20 years as a recording artist; Ben Ratliff of the New York Times described Rathbun as “an industrious saxophonist and imaginative composer-arranger.” Voted as a “Rising Star” in the 2018 and 2022 Downbeat Critics Polls, he has documented his stirring original music with a series of acclaimed recordings, on the Challenge, Fresh Sound and Steeplechase labels, and has collaborated with musicians like Kenny Wheeler, Billy Hart, Ben Monder Bill Stewart, and Luciana Souza. “Rathbun’s lines dance and glide,” writes David Whiteis of JazzTimes, “reflecting both childlike wonder and well-honed artistry.”

After hearing 2014’s Numbers & Letters the New Yorker declared Rathbun “a crafty saxophonist and composer whose ambitious work over the past decade has eluded the wider recognition it deserves.” Atwood Suites, Rathbun’s JUNO-nominated jazz-orchestra project was summarized in Jazziz Magazine; “On the basis of this CD alone, Rathbun deserves to be ranked among today’s top arranger- composers.” His latest recordings include NODES, Northern Noir with the legendary pianist Ran Blake, and Semantics, which finds Rathbun with tenor sax great Rich Perry, and jazz percussion icon Billy Drummond.

July 10th
Big Band Nouveau

CONDUCTOR - Thomas Polett


Bill Bier - 1st alto sax

Rolland L. Smith - 2nd alto sax

Greg Marsden - 1st tenor sax

Michael S. Doyle - 2nd tenor sax

Tom Elferdink - baritone sax


Mark D. Wells - 1st trombone

Troy Anderson - 2nd trombone

Luke Marlowe - 3rd trombone

Sean VanHaren - 4th (bass)

trombone/ tuba


Jonathan Karnes

Samuel (Tony) Spraggins

David Swan

Matt Lintula

Phil Smart


Bill Huyge - piano

Mark Landauer - guitar

Charles C. Johnson - bass

Fred Knapp - drums

A newer big band on the Grand Rapids scene, this 19 piece group's musical presentation is a continuation of hard bop and modern mainstream jazz. Their library covers a variety of very modern jazz styles including some Latin along with original compositions and arrangements written by some of the musicians in the band. Their performing credits include the GRandjazz fest, Thornapple Arts Council Jazz Festival, Lowell Showboat Showcase, and the Michigan Jazz Festival.


July 17th
Third Coast Swing

Kaedin Plummer Guitar

Steve Plummer Guitar

Andrew Henley Piano/Bass

Tom Knific Bass

Ella Jarvis Vocal

Ben Green Trumpet

Third Coast Swing has been playing the music of The late Belgium born Romani Gypsy, Django Reinhardt & his band, The Hot Club Of Paris 1930’-1940’s. Think Louis Armstrong with a French accent. Third Coast Swing has changed it up a bit and is currently touring with the Detroit native Dave Bennett, Violinist Grant Flick , Vocalist Ella Jury Jarvis & Pianist Andrew Henley. Ella and our guitarist Kaedin Plummer did a deep dive on early jazz classics by Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Holiday and then we arranged these songs to fit Third Coast Swings style.

Third Coast Swing has performed regionally for WYCE/LOCALSPINS at The BOB, The West MI Jazz Society, The Ludington Amphitheater, The Ludington Area Center for the Arts, Bell’s Kalamazoo, London Chop House, Detroit Jazz Society, Crooked Tree Art’s Center, Kerrytown Concert House, Playhouse at Whitelake, Ramsdell Theater, Westshore Performing Arts and more.

Third Coast Swing’s Music “is steeped in a tradition of a rich culture from Europe and the American Songbook. The concert makes for an excellent evening of stories and music that conjure thoughts of French Cafe, traveling Europe, or dancing to Hot Jazz Of that Golden era....publication

July 24th
Jordan Anderson Trio

July 31st
Steve Talaga Trio

Steve Talaga - keys

Stephen Talaga - guitar

Larry Ochiltree - drums

Pianist, composer and arranger Steve Talaga has been performing professionally for more than 40 years. He was chosen as the West Michigan Jazz Society's 2008 Jazz Musician of the Year, and has released eight compact discs under his own name: "Mirage;" "Yin-Yang;" "Basement Alchemy" (which was chosen as best release of 2000 by Lazaro Vega at WBLV-FM); "Two Worlds;" "Contemplating the Heavens" (a companion to the poetry chapbook of the same title by Linda Nemec Foster); "Heartside Sketches" (featuring a suite commissioned by MAJIC of Grand Rapids) which won the WYCE-FM "Jammie" Award for Best Jazz Album of 2010; “The Shapeshifter,” which includes “Deadman’s Hill,” for which Talaga won third place in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition (jazz category); and, most recently, "June Balloon." Most of his CDs are available on iTunes and at www.cdbaby.com.

Talaga's most recent project is the band, Lifeline, featuring him (keys), his son, Stephen Talaga (guitar), Caleb Elzinga (sax), and Larry Ochiltree (drums). Their debut CD, "No Worries," dropped in October, 2019.

Talaga is also co-leader of "Mind's Eye," a jazz quartet with four compact discs to its credit ("Angst for the Spoiler," "Seasons," "Lucky Nine," and "Children of the Glacier"). Talaga has performed with "Mind's Eye" at many venues and jazz festivals, including the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival in Michigan. Music from "Seasons" has been featured on the nationally syndicated public radio program, "Jazz After Hours."

Talaga is also pianist for many other small and large jazz ensembles, including the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, and is featured on recordings with several of them. He has performed with many jazz greats, including Kenny Wheeler, Terry Lynne Carrington, Wes Anderson, Marcus Printup, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Adam Nussbaum, Wycliffe Gordon, Ric Margitza, Bobby Shew, Maria Schneider, Marvin Stamm, Denis DiBlazio, Jon Faddis, Claudio Roditi, Mark Elf, Johnny Bassett, Greg Abate, Walt Weiskopf, Phil Woods, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra.

Among the many composition commissions he has received are several from MAJIC (Musical Arts for Justice in the Community), Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Linda Nemec Foster, and the West Michigan Lakeshore Jazz Connection.

Talaga recently retired from his position as an adjunct professor of music at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He has also been a member of the music faculties at Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Cornerstone University, and Grace Bible College, teaching courses in jazz studies and music theory/composition. Talaga is frequently a faculty member at the Aquinas College Summer Jazz Camp and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Talaga received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Studies, Magna Cum Laude, and a Master of Music Degree in Composition from Western Michigan University. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from Central Michigan University.

As a student in 1993, Talaga won a Downbeat Magazine award in the jazz composition category. He has won outstanding soloist awards from the Elmhurst, Aquinas, Ohio State University, and Notre Dame Jazz Festivals; and awards for jazz composition from the

Notre Dame and Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festivals. He received honorable mention in the 1995 Billboard Magazine Song Writing Contest, Jazz Category.

From 1982 - 1989, Talaga was a producer and on-air personality at CMU Public Radio in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

August 14th
Emma Wilburn Quartet

Pablo Muller - Trombone

Max Gage - Piano

Emma Wilburn - Bass

Will Crandell - Drums

Emma Wilburn was born in Seoul, South Korea but raised in Sacramento, California. She had recently this year graduated from Michigan State University receiving her degree in Jazz Studies studying under Rodney Whitaker, bass professor, and head director of the Jazz Program at Michigan State University. She attended Woodcreek High School in Roseville California studying under the direction of former band director Brad North. Beginning at the age of 11 playing bass previously studied with bassists Geri Pineda, Molly Redfield, and saxophonist Patrick Langham. Emma has played with jazz musicians such as Helen Sung, Dwight Adams, John Clayton, Vanessa Rubin, Carl Allen, Steve Wilson, Lewis Nash, Mark Armstrong, Marion Hayden, and Patrick Langham. Emma’s plans in the next coming years are to continue with school to receive her master’s in jazz bass at Michigan State University. Her main bassist influences include Ron Carter, Oscar Pettiford, and Linda Oh.


August 21st
Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra

Bob Nixon

Jim Hayward - Alto Sax

Mike Lutley - Alto Sax

Greg Marsden - Tenor Sax

Craig Hribek - Tenor Sax

Gary McCourry - Bari Sax

Nate VanderWerf - Trumpet

Matt Sumner - Trumpet

Ted Craig - Trumpet

Jim Sawyer - Trumpet

Mark Wells - Trombone

Paul Brewer - Trombone

Dave Collee - Trombone

Paul Keen - Trombone

Steve Talaga - Piano

Tom Lockwood - Bass

Eddie Eicher - Drums

For over 45 years, The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra has been one of Michigan’s premier jazz ensembles, featuring some of the finest musicians in the area playing swinging original compositions and arrangements as well as traditional favorites.

The musicians that create the live sounds are some of the area’s best soloists, sidemen, and educators available. Many have jazz projects of their own, yet dedicate time to fostering the performance of live big band jazz.

The band was founded in 1976 by the late Bruce Early, and has performed with many famous artists such as Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, Phil Woods, Pearl Bailey, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Maria Schneider, Allen Vizutti, Phil Wilson, Bobby Shew, and has been enjoyed by thousands of people at concerts, dances, and festivals throughout the region.

Millennium Park
The Meadows Amphitheater
1415 Maynard Ave SW
Walker, MI 49534