Sylvan Street is an exceptional group of jazz players and recording artists:
Jay Rees (Bass, Band Leader, Composer)
Jay Rees formed Sylvan Street in 2008 to perform his innovative collection of original jazz compositions. Since then, the band’s three CD’s were on the GRAMMY Awards Entry List for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Rees is an accomplished musician in jazz performance, having appeared throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan. He’s performed with such notable jazz artists as Jimmy Cobb, Lenny White, Paul Horn, and Randy Sandke. Rees toured with the international recording act The Lettermen as bassist and musical director and is featured on their album release Now and Then. He also appeared frequently throughout Southern Arizona with his own jazz quartet and was a featured performer at The University Of Arizona’s annual AZ Jazz Concert Series. Rees has a diverse catalog of original music written for jazz, wind ensemble, concert bands, and athletic bands that is commissioned and performed by major universities and high schools nationwide. A Detroit native, Rees lived in Los Angeles and Tucson before bringing his wealth of experience as conductor, composer, arranger, and performer to his position as a Professor of Music at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
Kelland Thomas (Saxophone)
Named by The Daily Beast as one of their 40 Most Intriguing Musicians of 2016, Thomas is comfortable in a variety of musical genres, having premiered over forty new solo and chamber works, and recorded for the Summit Jazz, AUR, New Vintage, Mode, and Albany record labels. Since his 1993 debut with the Houston Symphony, Thomas has performed as a soloist and with ensembles throughout the U.S. Mexico, Europe, and Asia, and with such luminaries as the PRISM quartet, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, The Firecracker Jazz Band, The Original Wildcat Jass Band, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Cobb, Jimmy Heath, the Manhattan Transfer, David “Fathead” Newman, Diane Schuur, and alt-rock band Spoon. Raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thomas is a world traveler whose trip to Costa Rica inspired his original song Arenal on Sylvan Street’s Here In America LP. His compositions Feedback Loop and Shooting Star are heard on the group’s Feedback Loop album. Thomas received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan. He served as Professor at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, prior to his current appointment as Dean of the College of Arts & Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.
Chad Shoopman (Trumpet)
Chad Shoopman, trumpet, is an artist for Powell Signature Trumpets and Warburton Mouthpieces where he designed the “Shoop” lead mouthpiece. He has performed for Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Walt Disney World Co, the Sam Rivers RivBea Orchestra, the Dan McMillion Groovin’ High Big Band, and the hr-Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany. As lead trumpeter with The Chuck Owen Jazz Surge Big Band, Shoopman has worked and recorded with such artists as Randy Brecker, Chick Corea, and Bob Mintzer. Shoopman has also performed pops concerts for The Florida Orchestra and The Naples Philharmonic, was music director and conductor of the award-winning Brass Band of Central Florida, has conducted the Orlando Philharmonic, and appeared as guest artist with the University of Central Florida. Other credits include appearances with Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth, Wynton Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, Patti Austin, Ann Hampton Callaway, Louie Bellson, Shelley Berg, Peabo Bryson, Pete Christlieb, Peter Erskine, Jon Faddis, and Bill Watrous. Shoopman is an avid studio player having recorded numerous projects for television, film, and radio as well as sessions for Disney shows and theme parks worldwide. Shoopman serves as Assistant Professor of Music at The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, where he also holds degrees in Music Education and Conducting Performance.
Kenny Smukal (Trumpet)
Kenny Smukal performed as lead trumpet and jazz soloist with the United States Air Force “Airmen of Note” from the late sixties through the eighties. He has worked or recorded with top recording and jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Oliver Nelson, Frank Rossilino, Clark Terry, Sarah Vaughn, Bobby Shew, Phil Woods, Doc Severinsen, Donald Byrd, Count Basie, and many others. He has appeared on television shows and in jazz festivals around the world including Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Montreaux Jazz Festival, and The Tonight Show. Ken’s experience also includes performing on numerous radio and television commercials.
Frank Browne (Guitar)
Frank Browne resides in Los Angeles and tours regularly throughout the U.S. He has performed on stage with such national acts as the Big Brothers Big Band jazz ensemble, and the Zoot Suit Revue swing band. He is heard on ZSR’s album Bold, Borrowed and New as well as three CD’s with Gary Urwin’s Studio Orchestra. Browne has recorded with legendary saxophonist Pete Christlieb and trombonist Bill Watrous. He has also appeared in major cities from coast to coast at such notable venues as The Derby, The Coconut Club, The Supper Club NY, House of Blues, and the MGM Grand. Fluent in all musical genres, Browne maintains a large studio of private students. He originally hails from New York and is a graduate of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
Andrew Hix (Drums/Vocals)
Andrew Hix has a diverse musical range having performed and recorded with artists in both Chicago and Los Angeles. He toured throughout the U.S. and Canada playing with several name acts including The Diamonds, The Coasters, Little Anthony, Del Shannon, and The Platters. Hix works extensively in the jazz clubs of Chicago, including the Apollo Theatre. In addition to performing, Andrew is co-owner of the Hix Brothers Music stores in Batavia and Aurora, IL, where he also serves as percussion faculty. Hix is a graduate of DePaul University School of Music.
Evan Rees (Piano/Keyboards)
Evan Rees is a Phoenix-based jazz, pop, and classical pianist who performs internationally in a variety of musical settings, including as keyboardist with concert production company shows, and the Lucky Devils Band (San Francisco and Phoenix). A BMI affiliated songwriter and publisher, Evan composed the original jazz ballad Song For M, recorded on Sylvan Street’s Here In America CD and selected for Best Instrumental Composition on The Recording Academy’s 54th GRAMMY Awards entry ballot. His innovative solo electronic synth tune Inner City Sonnet is heard on the group’s Feedback Loop album. As a teen, Evan attended the GRAMMY Foundation’s prestigious GRAMMY Camp L.A., where he appeared on CBS-TV and in performance on KTLA-TV and at the historic El Rey Theatre. Over the course of his career, Evan has studied and/or performed with award-winning pianists and composers Alan Pasqua, Tamir Hendelman, Jeff Haskell, Barb Catlin, and Michael Kocour, Grammy Award singer/guitarist George Benson, and international recording artists/saxophonists Brice Winston, and Ben Schachter. Evan is a graduate of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in Jazz Studies/Piano Performance.
Michael Faltin (Percussion)
Michael Faltin is a renowned ethno-percussionist. Over the years, he has worked with steel bands in Trinidad, and has studied and performed with numerous African and Cuban musicians. As a drummer, Faltin plays in a variety of professional settings including clubs and touring stage musicals. He is a multi-instrumentalist, working as a dance accompanist and as bass player for the trio Steel Jam. A longtime music educator in the Arizona public school system, Faltin currently owns and operates Instrumental Music Center in Tucson, AZ, awarded NAMM’s “Top 100 Dealers” in the United States.