Rhythm Section

George Berry – Bass

George Berry began playing the drums in the junior high school band when he was 12.  He picked up the bass fiddle at 15 by signing up for what he thought was the beginning orchestra.  Instead, he had inadvertently signed on for the regular orchestra.  Fortunately, he was a quick study and found his talent / love for playing bass.

George attended North Texas State University from 1956 to 1958 where he was a member of the Five Front Lab Band. While in college he played weekends with the Ted Weems Orchestra .At age 20, George was hired for a 40 hour a week summer job as a studio musician, the staff bass player at Commercial Recording Corporation in Dallas .  On his 21st birthday, George went on the road with Hal McIntyre’s Orchestra.  During his time with McIntyre,  Nelson Riddle fronted the band for two tours with Nat King Cole, one including  Connie Francis.

George’s career continued to flourish as he performed with such names as Bill Norvus and the Upstarts, Woody Herman, Med Flory, Johnny Smith, Louie Bellson, Ralph Marterie, Ronny Dawson, Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Gordon Mcrae, Homer & Jethro, Calvin Owens, Jimmy Ford, Willie Nelson, Paul Buskirk, Ray Baduc, Ray Petersen, Dakota Staten, Little Esther Phillips, Sergio Franchi, Arnett Cobb, Vicki Carr and The Gulf Coast giants of Jazz. While with the house band at the Cork Club in Houston, among the stars he accompanied were John Carroll, Marie Wilson, Gogi Grant, and Robert Goulet.

He was Mel Torme’s bass player of choice whenever Torme performed in Houston . In his late thirties George retired from full time music performance to raise a family.  He always worked his “day job” while playing part time in the evenings and on weekends.

 

 

Bruce

Bruce Bjorna – Guitar

Bruce Bjorna watched the Ed Sullivan TV show in 1964 like thousands of kids his age, and saw something on the black and white screen “so cool” that it changed the direction of his life! The Beatles made an impression so profound that he harassed his parents until they finally gave him an electric guitar. He has been practicing, learning and playing ever since!

Bruce started his teaching career while attending high by teaching guitar at the local music store. He attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables Florida. Bruce studied with the renown virtuoso Juan Mercadal and became his graduate assistant teaching undergraduate classical guitar. Earning his Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music Education degree, Bruce continued to expand his knowledge of music and teaching techniques.  He was a student of and classmate of soon to be famous Pat Metheny, Steve Morse, Jaco Pastorious and Bruce Hornsby. A very inspiring time to say the least!

Bruce has over thirty years experience teaching in public schools.  He has taught band, chorus, orchestra, jazz band, general music and guitar. He has prepared many high school guitarists to attend music school at the university level. Among his awards Bruce was the first music teacher to be recognized as a Deer Valley Unified School District Teacher of the Year.  His ensembles have won numerous superior ratings at state and regional festivals. At this stage in his life Bruce is still just as enthusiastic about guitar and music as that kid watching the Beatles on TV!

 

 

CAC conducting photo

Clark Chaffee – Drums

Clark Chaffe with extensive experience as a performer, conductor and music educator, also brings a unique blend of perspectives to the podium.  He is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and has earned music degrees from University of Michigan
and Northern Illinois University.  NIU named him the 2014 Distinguished Alumist from the the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The Illinois ASTA chapter named him the 2011 Classroom Teacher of the Year. Clark, in addition to his ensembles, and the Stevenson High School music PLC team have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts,  U.S. Department of Education,  Kennedy Center, Grammy Foundation and the Conductors Guild.   Clark remains active as a clinician and conductor since retiring from his career of building school orchestra and guitar programs.  He has extensive experience
conducting concert repertoire and has also directed opera and musical theater productions with a wide variety of ensembles and age levels.  Clark’s professional performing experience includes being a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, timpanist for the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Elgin Symphony and Rockford Symphony. Additionally,  Clark has been the drummer for the University of Michigan Big Band, drummer/vocalist for jazz bands and his own jazz quartet. Clark’s experience includes many concerts and recitals playing bass, cello, viola and classical guitar. Since moving to the Phoenix area in 2013, Clark has been an active teacher, performer, and clinician.  In addition to his role as conductor of the West Valley Wind Ensemble, he conducts the Surprise Pops Band and  is Principal Viola in the Sun City Chamber Orchestra.  He performs regularly (drummer/vocalist) in several West Valley jazz ensembles including the Sun City Stomperz (classic Dixieland) and the Encores Dance Band. Clark will be the timpanist for the 2016 tour of China for the American Festival Orchestra.

 

 

Jim Whitaker has been with Bones Southwest as the bassist and pianist for the past year. He and Bob Weller first started making music with one another in Scottsdale in the Coronado High School orchestra. After Bob’s graduation, Jim assumed the position as principal bassist. Upon Jim’s graduation he continued to perform with several community and college orchestras. He furthered his career as a professional in both Broadway and off Broadway pit orchestras as a bassist, pianist and conductor. Jim’s diverse career has landed him a number of directorial positions which includes jazz groups at festivals.  He has performed with touring rock bands, chamber orchestras and production companies for TV in addition to performing for over three hundred CD recording  projects. Jim has 27 years of teaching experience and loves his work in the evangelical area.  His great love for big band repertoire has made him a perfect fit with the brass sound of Bone Southwest.