Trumpeter Rob Faulkner is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UMass, Amherst. He joined the band in 2018. A leading player on the local scene he currently plays in several small ensembles and is a regular with the Amherst Jazz Orchestra. In addition to his work in economic sociology He authored or co-authored several boks on music including “Do You Know?” The Jazz Repertoire in Action, Art From Start to Finish: Jazz, Painting, Writing, and Other Improvisations, Music On Demand: Composers and Careers in the Hollywood Film Industry, and Hollywood Studio Musicians: Their Work and Careers In The Film Industry.
Pianist James received his training at The Hartford Conservatory of Music, The University of Southern California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and The Institute of Audio Research in New York. His first national tour began in 1967, as Assistant Conductor and Arranger with the Ice Capades.
As Music Director and arranger, he has been associated with many celebrities such as: Bernadette Peters, Leslie Uggams, Carole Channing, Mickey Rooney, Joan Rivers and Juliet Prowse. As a jazz pianist and arranger, he has performed with Karrin Allyson, Mel Torme, Marlena Shaw, Ernie Andrews, Lionel Hampton, "Cat" Anderson, Red Rodney, Ernie Watts, Jeff Hamilton, Shelly Manne and Louis Bellson, among many others. His big band credits include Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Bill Holman, Count Basie, Richard Maltby and Alvino Rey.His television and Hollywood shows and series contributins include The Tonight Show, Emmy Awards, Tony Orlando & Dawn, Sonny & Cher. His musical Collaborations include Nelson Riddle, Neal Hefti, Henry Mancini, Fred Karlin, Anthony Newley, David Rose, Peter Matz. He has been arranger and jazz/pop pianist for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; arranger and pianist with The Hartford Symphony Classical Jazz Quartet, a board member of The American Society of Music Arrangers; Music and director/arranger for Dave Brubeckʼs musical, The Real Ambassadors, featuring Jon Hendricks and Kurt Elling. Jim is currently a faculty member at Westfield State University and the University of Massachusetts and heads his own quintet: https://www.argiroquintet.com/
We are thankful to former members and the many subs who have stepped in to help us on occasion: Dave Bilodeau, Mike Stamm, Ken Forfia, Claire Arenius, R.J. Avellone, Dave Elvin, Jay Elfenbein, Andy Jaffe, Jim Argiro, Pat Kennedy, Riley Godleski, Adam Scotera, Frances Rahaim, Carol Abbe Smith, Chris Bakriges, George Plouffe, and Jeff Bucs..
Professor Emeritus of Biology at Amherst College, reedman Dick Poccia has played in jazz groups in Western Massachusetts for 30 years, recording with the Valley Big Band, Jeff Holmes Big Band, and the Lowe-Jaffe Repertory Big Band. Currently a member of the Amherst Jazz Orchestra, Creacion Latin Big Band, Ask Me Now, and the Jeff Holmes Big Band.. Played in back up bands for the Temptations, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, Ernie Watts, Claudio Roditi, Yusef Lateef, John Abercrombie, Steve Turre, Al Cohn, Rufus Reed, Karrin Allyson, Steve Davis, Sheila Jordan, George Garzone, Peter Erskine, Paul Winter, John Fedchock, and the Ringling Brother Circus. Has twice toured in Russia playing at theWhite Nights Jazz Festival. Has performed at Sculler’s, the El Morocco, Sandy’s, Berklee School of Music, the Philharmonic Jazz Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Estrada State Theater in Moscow, and DOCKS television program in Lisbon. Played with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Festival Orchestra with Gunther Schuller at Amherst College.
Bassist Mark Dunlap, from Holyoke, MA, is a PASS Region I Assistant at the Federal Aviation Administration. He has studied bass with accomplished NYC bassists Santi DeBriano and Joe Fonda, and composition and improvisation with long-time mentor, Dr. Ed Byrne. He is a founding member and serves on the board of the Western New England Double Bass Society, a group of 200 performing double bassists that sponsors bass workshops and concerts in New England. Mark serves as the Chairman for the Holyoke Cultural Council under the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Mark co-leads The Interplay Jazz Band, Frain/Dunlap Jazz Trip, InterTrip and performs with other bands including Berkshire Jazz Underground, Eastern Standard Time, and Disciples of Cool in New England and New York. He co-owns the independent recording label and publishing company Simmer Music has released a CD with guitarist David Frain entitled "Pull The Shades" and has organized festivals including the Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival and the Reggae Rager and Future Roots Festival.
Drummer Bill Matthews Ph.D., Professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Psychology and Education, has been playing drums since his teenage years. In the late 1980's, he studied music intensively, taking workshops and lessons at the Drummer's Collective in NYC, Jazz in July at the University of Massachusetts, and later where he had the opportunity to play with the legendary Archie Shepp. Since, the early 1990's, Bill began and continues his study with the great Boston based drummer, Bob Gullotti of the Fringe. Bill played for 2 years in the Valley Jazz Ensemble under the direction of trombonist Ed Byrne and with DBRAZZ, a piano trio. He has performed in numerous concerts at local venues in the Valley including Moment's Notice and the Eclectic Jazz Quartet.