Jennifer May
(bass)

Jennie Jones
(alto sax, vocals)

Kathy Carr
(keys, vocals)

Peggy Scalzo
(drums)

Marcia Tichy
(alto sax)

Maggie Roston
(tenor sax)

Shannon Zolnowski
(tenor sax)

Susan Fimbel
(baritone sax)

Corey Byrd
(trombone)

Vicky Carden
(trombone)

Teresa Leone
(trombone)

Karen Smith
(trombone)

Julie Winden
(trumpet)

Stacey Nicastro
(trumpet)

Carol Svensen
(trumpet)

Kristina Bordeleau
(trumpet)


Claudia Andres
(keys, vocals)

Mari McNeil
(vocals)





Jennifer May

Founder & Bassist

   Jennifer started her playing career in 1985 at the historic Colored Musicians Club in Buffalo, New York. She has played professionally with many different groups, ranging from a guitar duet to full big-bands. In 1996 she founded a 6-piece jazz ensemble, the Ladies First Sextet, which played for several years in the Buffalo area before it was reformed into the now 16-piece all-female Ladies First Big Band.

   In 1998, as a bassist for blues/rock band Barb Wired, Jennifer joined Taylor Made Jazz (TMJ), an international touring jazz R&B group. As a member of TMJ, she completed six worldwide tours performing worldwide at military bases and embassies from Iceland to Mozambique.

   Jennifer received the Night-Life Magazine "Buffalo's Best R&B Bassist" award in 1999, 2001, and 2002. She received additional recognition as a member of TMJ when they also received Night-Life Magazine awards for the "Best R&B Group" in 2001 and 2002.

   As a working jazz musician, Jennifer also feels a responsibility to educate the next generation of players in this unique American art form. To that end, Jennifer has been performing jazz concerts in the Buffalo City Schools for over 20 years and currently works through Young Audiences of WNY, part of a national organization providing educational arts and music in schools.



Jennie Jones

1st Alto Sax & Vocals

   Besides her duties as musical director for Ladies First, Jennie has been associated with the Macy Favor Big Band, the Deutschlanders German Band, and was a founding member of the Buffalo Saxophone Quartet. With her husband, guitarist Dennis Warne, she co-leads the group Jazzline.

   Jennie studied saxophone under reed master Dave Schiavone, and also plays the flute, clarinet, soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. Jennie is also an accomplished jazz vocalist, and fronts the Ladies First Combo.



Kathy Carr

Piano & Vocals

   Kathy is a recent addition to the Ladies First roster. She can be seen as a regular vocalist and piano player for the Pyramid Band.

   Kathy also plays weekends at local nightclubs, and provides entertainment at many area nursing homes and senior centers.



Peggy Scalzo

Drums

   Peggy, a native of Endicott, NY, has performed in several musical genres throughout upstate New York, including concert and marching bands, musical theater productions, big bands and small combos, and pop, rock, and fusion bands. In addition to her work with Ladies First, she is also drummer for the Dave Schiavone Quartet and is a member of the nationally known American Legion Band of the Tonawandas.

   Peggy keeps busy with studio work as well, having performed on many demo sessions and independent releases. She also teaches privately at her home studio.



Marcia Tichy

2nd Alto Sax

   Marcia teaches instrumental music for the City of Tonawanda School District. In addition to playing alto saxophone, she can also been seen performing on flute and tenor saxophone.



Maggie Roston

1st Tenor Sax

   Maggie started her professional career as a flutist/saxophonist, performer and teacher in Minneapolis. After graduating from the University of Minneapolis with a BA, majoring in French and minoring in Music, she left for Los Angeles. While there, she was a regular performer for The LA Actors Theater, The Hollywood Orchestra, Maiden Voyage (an all-woman big-band), Passion and many other ensembles. She later moved to Santa Barbara, where she joined The Civic Light Opera, as well as forming her own Latin/Fusion jazz quartet.

   Later moving to France, Maggie continued with her own quartet as well as joining Comparsa and playing in l'Orchestre d'Aquitaine (Big Band). She also taught flute, saxophone and jazz workshops at the leading jazz school, le CIAM. Before returning stateside, Maggie toured with various Reggae, Jazz and Creole groups.

   Back in Minneapolis, she could be found playing woodwinds for the Minnesota Children's Theater and the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, in addition to playing in R&B Bands and Latin groups, at venues such as The Guthrie Theater and Orchestra Hall. Newly arrived in Buffalo, Maggie continues to freelance and teach in addition to joining the Ladies First.


To email Maggie...



Shannon Zolnowski

2nd Tenor Sax

   A native of Tennessee, Shannon received her B.M. in Music Education from Union University, located in Jackson, TN. She has also received Masters Degrees in Clarinet Performance and Music Education from Bowling Green State University.

   Shannon currently teaches at Lancaster High School, where she is co-director of the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, in addition to being assistant director of the marching band. She regularly performs with the Lancaster Town Band and teaches private lessons on clarinet and saxophone.


Susan Fimbel

Baritone Sax

   Susan is a 2008 graduate from Akron Central School. She was a member of the Girl Scout Jazz Combo in 2007 and joined the Ladies First Big Band the following fall.



Corey Byrd

1st Trombone

   Corey Byrd has been a member of the band almost since the beginning. She recently rejoined the group after a brief hiatus.

   She studied Health and Wellness at Buffalo State College, and can be found performing with her uncles at The Byrd's Nest.



Vicky Carden

2nd Trombone

   Playing 2nd trombone is Vicky, a 2007 graduate of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. Vicky is currently majoring in Music at Buffalo State College. After graduation, she plans on going back to school to obtain a two-year Veterinary Techincian degree. One day, she hopes to work with both music and animals.

   Vicky sings 1st soprano for the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Chancel Choir.



Teresa Leone

3rd Trombone

   Teresa is currently a senior Music Education major at Buffalo State College, with concentrations in piano and trombone. At Buffalo State, Teresa is a member of the Wind Ensemble,Jazz Ensemble, Philharmonia Orchestra and Trombone Choir.

   Additionally, Teresa gives private lessons on piano, and hopes to complete a Master's Degree in Trombone Performance after graduation



Karen Smith

4th Trombone

   Karen is a new addition to The Ladies First Big Band

   



Julie Winden

1st Trumpet

   After high school, Julie performed with the Niagara County Community College Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band, and then took a break from musical performance to focus on a teaching career. Julie earned her B.S. from Niagara University and an Ed.M. from the University at Buffalo. She currently teaches biology and chemistry at Niagara Wheatfield High School.

   Julie's musical interests were rekindled in 2000, when she joined the Carl Filbert Band, arranging horn section parts, playing trumpet and singing. Julie also performs with the Ladies First Combo.



Stacey Nicastro

2nd Trumpet

   Stacey owns and operates Akron Music Studios Inc, located in the village of Akron, NY. She currently teaches private lessons on trumpet, trombone, French horn and baritone.

   In addition to playing with Ladies First, Stacey can be seen performing with The Polished Brass Quintet of Rochester, NY,the Worshipping Brass Quintet, The Amherst Chamber Ensemble, and the Akron Community Band.



Carol Svensen

3rd Trumpet

   Carol hails from Jamestown, where she is a member of the Jamestown Municipal Band. She is also a part-time faculty member at Jamestown Community College, where she performs with the concert and jazz bands.

   Carol is also an avid jazz keyboardist, and is currently musical director for the Gloria Dei Church.



Kristina Bordeleau

4th Trumpet

   Kristina teaches instrumental music in the Niagara Falls City School District. She earned her B.M. from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, majoring in Music Education and Music Business, and her Ed.M. from the University of Buffalo.

    Kristina has studied trumpet with Phil Christner, Douglas Sturdivant, John Ellis, and Evan Champion.



Claudia Andres

Piano & Vocals

   Claudia received her B.M. in Music Education from the Crane School of Music, and her M.M. in Piano from Arizona State University. She currently heads the Choral program at Wilson High School and serves as Music Director at the First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown, NY.

   Claudia has been performing at classical venues in the Western New York area for over twenty-five years, in addition to playing with her husband in the Jerry Andres Band. This is her first Big Band experience and it's been fantastic!



Mari McNeil

Vocals

   FROM THE TONAWANDA NEWS:

    McNeil's story is typical, atypical and unfolding. Art school, a career in graphic design, marriage and raising two children, followed by remarriage, reorientation and hitting the restart button on life. At age 52, she doesn't mind saying, "I want it known I'm a jazz singer."

The approach to her career is business-like. Keep assiduous records, practice, study and "perform Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays. I've worked all my life. At 14 I was cleaning houses," she notes. The jazz life these days is not quite the way it is depicted in movies. McNeil and her accompanists, she says, "were all nerds growing up. They weren't the hippest people on earth. They are now."

It helps an aspiring jazz singer to have inspiration and support, and McNeil's career has plenty. She mentions laid-back, in-control Geri Southern as a key influence, she of the West Coast jazz movement of the late 1950s, as well as Toronto's Holly Cole, whose singing, the way she "twists it," McNeil says, can be compared to elegant bomb-throwing. There's Diana Krall, the current popular favorite in oh-so-grown-up delivery, and of course, Ella Fitzgerald, who occupies the same pillar in jazz singing as Thomas Jefferson does in American history.

Unlike most pop music forms, jazz can accommodate evocative love songs as well as material essentially wisecracks set to music, and McNeil is a fan of both.

McNeil keeps her hand in that other art of hers, designing material for "the odd pro-bono account, the Kenmore Village Improvement Society," and it helps she's married to actor David Lundy, who has worked locally in alternative theater, Buffalo's Shakespeare in the Park and the Kavinoky Theater ("the most unegotistical actor I've ever met," she says). But even if it's spinning stories in song from two or more generations ago in a low, earthy voice, it's a business, Mari McNeil's new business. "Jazz with love," her business card reads, part of a personal renewal everyone should experience at least once in his or her life. Somehow it seems nothing like the image of jazz, nor the image of business, but there it is, another slice of life's new definition of normal. Mari McNeil, jazz singer. It rings well.