Musician Bios

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The effervescent, Classic Vegas Entertainer of the Year in 2014, Jazzin’ Jeanne Brei appeared off-Broadway in Give My Regards To Broadway, co-starred in a national tour of No, No Nanette with Phil Ford and Mimi Hines and performed with the American Tap Dance Orchestra at The Cotton Club with Honi Coles and Tommy Tune. She’s sung with bands all over the country including The Boomtown Stompers in Denver, Smilin’ Jack Meihlan’s Quintet out of Chicago and Bob Cantwell & His Stompers at the Red Blazer Too and T.J. Bentley's in New York. She recorded with The Showboat Casino Dixieland Band in Atlantic City and sang on a Mediterranean cruise hosted by AMC. In 2006, she sang with Jeff Healy & his band in Toronto and in 2007 with the Cottontails in San Francisco. Concert pianist/ showman extraordinaire Hershey Felder asked her to sing on his Gershwin album recorded live July 11, 2007 at the Geffen Theatre in L.A. and Ann Parenti recorded the Swingers for the history of jazz in Las Vegas, resulting in Midnight Muse, a DVD and CD set. She's appeared on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (aired March 2, 2015), Master of Dance with host Joey Lawrence (aired in 2008) and in the Flirty Girl Fitness infomercial that aired in 2009. She's also written, co-produced and narrated five PBS documentaries that have aired in Las Vegas and is editor-in-chief of Exhibit City News, a national B2B magazine.

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Steve Johnson: Conductor, Multi-instrumentalist & Showman Extraordinaire

Steve grew up near Santa Barbara, California, and began playing the clarinet at the age of nine. He became involved with the Cal Poly College radio station which led him to San Diego State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio, Television and Film. As a master of the woodwind instruments, Steve also plays brass and is also an accomplished pianist, vocalist and arranger. The master showman and entertainer has worked in Las Vegas for more than 35 years, and has performed with countless stars and shows—including the chairman of the board, himself, Frank Sinatra at Caesars; Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and the Golddiggers and many others. From concert halls to recording studios, cruise ships to show rooms, Steve Johnson has played in virtually every venue where music can be heard. For most of the Sorta Dixie/Kinda Dixie trad jazz band’s 20+ years at the Barbary Coast/Gold Coast, Steve played daily from noon-six Monday-Friday as well as wowing the trad jazz festival circuit crowds—and his performing schedule now includes performing many corporate gigs as well as dazzling the Speakeasy Swingers fans!

click to hear steve play "yakety sax"
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Charlie Shaffer, Pianist

 Charlie hails from Houston, TX and has performed at virtually every hotel in Las Vegas plus Liberace's "Tivoli Gardens". He appeared in a Warner Bros. movie, on the Dick Clark TV show, and other network shows.  Charlie has written several award-winning Las Vegas hotel commercials as well as orchestral arrangements for performance on the TV shows of Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Sammy Davis Jr, and Joey Bishop. As rehearsal pianist for the Jackie Gleason Las Vegas TV show he worked daily with June Taylor, Ben Vereen, Lola Folana and others, creating dance sequences and musical arrangements. He has accompanied Peggy Lee, Debbie Reynolds, Dean Martin, Steve Lawrence, Robert Goulet, Joe Williams and others.
   At Charlie's recording studio (Charmar) he's arranged and produced for Willie Nelson and Don Cherry, It's Magic, is now available--Boots Randolph and Charlie McCoy added some outstanding sax and harmonica, under the supervision of legendary Nashville producer Fred Foster. One track from it ("It's Magic") can be heard on the album Joy by Willie Nelson & Friends. The earlier album Augusta (featuring Willie and Don, and produced-arranged by Charlie) is still available.
   Charlie's many recordings are heard nationally on the ABC Radio Stardust Network, and other syndicated programs, also on the new digital cable systems' easy listening audio channels, as well as internet radio and XM/Sirius satellite radio. His music is available as MP3 downloads (complete albums or solo tracks) at iTunes.com and Amazon.com. Visit www.charlieshaffer.com for more info.  (He's pictured with his first gig with Jeanne at Debbie Reynold's Casino in 1996 and is one of the founding members of the Speakeasy Swingers.)
 

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Bill King, trumpet

Bill hails from Denton, Texas where both of his parents played in bands and it was his father who gave him his Calvary bugle and his own coronet to play, which he still has.  Bill attended N. Texas State University where he studied Jazz Education before he left school to play on the road, ending up in Las Vegas in 1985. He has played with the ghost bands of Lawrence Welk, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, as well as playing with such stars as Jack Jones, Sam Butera, Louie Bellson, The Buckinghams, Deep Purple, Jan and Dean, Sam and Dave, the Righteous Brothers, Dell Shannon, Peter Noone, Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, Red Buttons, Rich Little, Jay Leno, Frank Gorshin. Bob Newhart, Wayne Newton, Frankie Avalon, Charo, Rita Moreno, Bobby Vinton, Dick Contino, Kevin Spacey and many, many more. Bill is a freelance artist and has played with many different people, including Al Martino’s band. Bill has played in many of the lounges of Las Vegas and in lots of different showrooms, including the Playboy’s Girls of Rock n’ Roll at the Maxim Hotel, Vegas the Show and he freelances in some of the orchestras that back many of the various shows that come to Las Vegas.

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Joey Farina, trombone and piano

Joey is a trombonist, pianist and vocalist who moved to Las Vegas in 1975 from Tupelo, Miss., after spending his first nine years in Penn. He began performing with his musical family as The Farina Music Machine in 1971, playing trombone, singing and arranging music. The Farina family owned a supper club and he performed there for years, as well as playing other venues around Las Vegas. He's played with such acts as Connie Francis, Jerry Vale, Al Martino, Fabian, Patti Page, The Four Lads, Frank Sinatra Jr., and many others, working as a contractor for Station Casinos. He's also worked at the Gold Coast, Rio, Sahara, Paris, Palazzo, Plaza and many more. He has conducted for The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Diamonds and he played trombone and conducted for Al Martino. He also works with high school and middle school students in the local school district—and has worked as a music director and mentor to students at Cheyenne HS, Swainston MS, and the Andre Agassi Academy, among others. (Pictured L-R: Jeanne, Joey, Charlie and Bill)

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Bill Bailey, bass

Bill grew up in Arlington, Mass., and studied arranging/composition/trumpet at the Berklee School of Music. He was the head arranger for Edgemont Productions in Scarsdale, NY. He played bass in the Desert Inn house band in the 1980s and was the principal bassist for the Nevada Chamber Symphony for 25 years. He has played for Mel Torme, Juliet Prowse, Vic Damone, Diann Carroll, Jerry Lewis, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, among many others. In just the last couple of weeks, he could be found playing Cajun/zydeco with Howlin’ King Crawdad at Saddle &  Spurs, blues with Monk & the Po’ Boys at the Sand Dollar Lounge and the Gold Mine Tavern , rock n’ roll with StefnRock at the Colorado Belle in Laughlin, the Great American Song Book with Joe Darro and Preston Miles at The Barrymore, Gus Mancuso at the Bootlegger Bistro, jazz at the E String playing the Richie Cole book—and a few years back, retro swing with Uncle Sugar & The Sweet Daddies.

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Bob Chmel, drums

Bob graduated from Kent State University with a B.S. in education and a M.A. in performance and was awarded Alumni of the Year by Kent State in 2003. He won awards in college (three times) as best drummer in collegiate festivals, lived and played in Chicago for 20 years playing jazz, shows, studio sessions and theaters including big bands and entertainers such as Stars of Lawrence Welk. He received his big break while playing for the Glenn Miller band (1973-75), then he joined Frank Sinatra, Jr. for 40 years. He moved to Las Vegas in 1998 and continued to play for such stars as Frank Sinatra Sr., Bob Hope, Pia Zadora, Doc Severinson and Jerry Lewis as well as the Nevada Pops. And for nearly 30 years, he has gone to Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Wisconsin every summer to mentor the next generation of young jazz musicians and perform in the Birch Creek faculty Academy Big Band for evening concerts. He’s performed with the Glenn Miller Band, Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Les and Larry Elgart, and the Woody Herman Orchestra. He continues to perform independently, releasing CDs, working on national commercials, televised events and live performances and played for Bob Anderson’s year-long Sinatra show at the Venetian. 

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Our Sweet Substitutes & Special Guests

With musicians this amazing, they're in high demand - so our sweet substitutes and special guests are also some of the BEST musicians in Las Vegas, including, pictured L-R: Dick Jones (bass), Ron Simone (keys), Jeanne, John Plows (drums) and the late Jim Fischer on reeds

 

Trumpet: Ramiro Nasello, Dave Blazer, Tom Ehlen, Charlie Niehoff, Merv Harding, Charly Raymond, Loren Little & Michael Ray Tyler
 

Trombone: Brandon Turchiano, Steve Meyer, Brian O'Shea, Kevin Stout, Jon Konklow, Chase Acito, Matt Johnson, Graham Berry
 

Reeds: Dr. George Ritter, David Poe and the late Jim Fischer and Roger Hall
 

Piano: Ron Simone, Ned Mills, Pat Marlin, Larry Millonzi, Joe Darro, 

David Decosta, Vita Corimba, Doug Taylor


Bass: John Belzaguy, Dick Jones, Bob Sachs, Danny DeMorales, 

Steve Flora, Jeff Zinn, Red Michaels, Ty Lemley 


Drums: Manny Gamazo, Al Guzman, John Plows, Mike Candito, Michael Tramontana, Howie Agster, Cary Stratton, Joey Vespe, Paul Testa, Bruce Harper, Jimmy Racey and the late Clyde Duell 


Guitar: Bobby Lee Howard, John Falbo & the late Tom McDermott


Guest Vocalists: Doc Phineas (Kenneth Kastler), Sonny Charles, Allen Tramont, Marsha K. Ross, P-Funk's PooPoo Man (Gene Anderson), Paul Stubblefield, Peter Pavone, Ryan Baker, Carmine Mandia, Teddy Kaye, Cushney Roberts, Michael Monge, Lisa Gay, Barbara Brighton, Rita Lim and many, many more!

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Our Founding Members

Legendary saxophonist Don Hill from the Treniers told Jeanne in 2002 that "we should start a band" and so we did. Founding members at our 2007 Jazzin' with Jeanne show (and live CD) at the Fitzgerald Casino's Showroom included (L-R) drummer Jimmy Racey, bassist Ty Lemley, Jeanne, guest star pianist Dehner Franks, Don Hill and Charlie Shaffer. Don will celebrate his 98th birthday this Nov. 2 and has promised to come sit in and play with the band. He retired after his 96th birthday after playing 10 years with the Speakeasy Swingers. Ty plays and strolls 6 nights/week at Maggiano's at the Fashion Show Mall, Jimmy plays for the Dumkoffs and Dehner has moved to Texas. Not pictured are trombonist Bobby Scann who passed away last year and Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist (trumpet/sax/trombone) Corey Gemme who also played on our first CD.