KCGO Big Band - a Swing Orchestra

 

 

About KCGO

Kevin Mills formed KCGO Big Band in the summer of 1995. The group, which has been swinging the Twin Cities since the summer of 1995, consists of a variety of accomplished musicians who love to perform.

Sampling of Performances

  • Music Minnesota

  • Minnesota Music Educators Association

  • Minnesota Choral Directors Association

  • Concordia College

  • North Central University

  • Orchestra Hall (with the North Central University Chorale).

  • Opening for Denver and the Mile High Orchestra

About Founder Kevin Mills

Kevin, KCGO Big Band founder and leader,  has written and/or arranged most of the material in the band's repertoire, and has at various times played alto sax, tenor sax, guitar, and drums in the band.   In Spring of 2008, Kevin  completed his coursework toward a Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Minnesota.  Kevin is in the process of returning to his first professional love: teaching.

About KCGO's Members

Depending on the occasion, Kevin is joined by
thirteen to seventeen of these beautiful and talented people:

  • Doug Rasmussen (Saxaphone) graduated with a degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. He spent the 80’s in Seattle Washington, and while there was a member of the Fred Radke Orchestra. While in Seattle Doug played with Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Four Tops, the Temptations and many of the swing era greats including Steve Allen, Helen Forest, Frankie Lane and Frank Sinatra Jr. Doug was a founding member of, and a principal writer for the Jazz Police Big Band, with whom he recorded two CDs.  Doug is a member of the Stan Bann Big Band and is in demand writing Big Band charts for many local high schools. He is on the Church Council of Gethsemane Lutheran Church and has had the honor of serving as President for the year 2007. Doug says, "Praising the Lord and blowing down the walls with KCGO is one of the great joys in my life!"

  • Tim Kraft (alto sax, flute) has been with KCGO since 2006.  Tim’s musical interest flourished under the training of Brian Grivna while Tim grew up in Bloomington, MN.  Tim went on to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire pursuing saxophone performance.  Tim has served as a board member for the Medalist, and Bloomington Fine Arts Councils, having served as Vice-President and President of the Medalist Band.  Tim holds the principal alto saxophone position with the Bloomington Medalist Concert Band and plays with several other Twin Cities big bands.  He also enjoys his music ministry at his family’s home church, Grace Church in Eden Prairie where he is a featured soloist, leads their contemporary service horn line, and their big band’s sax section. Tim is most proud of his whole family’s personal commitments to Christ and their life’s choices as they pursue His goals for their lives.

  • Mark Jordheim (Tenor Sax) is a veteran of the saxophone section, joining KCGO in mid-1996.  He attended MSUM for Music Education and during his senior year he was awarded the Theodore Presser Award, given to the top music student of the department.  Mr. Jordheim attained his first band directing position at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School—a position which he still holds todayMark has continued his musical training, and has earned a
    Master’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Minnesota.
     
    As a performer he has enjoyed tenures with the Century College Jazz Ensemble, the Good News Big Band, Stir Fry, and KCGO.  Mark can also be found performing in his home church, Maple Grove Evangelical Free Church.  He feels blessed that God has given him a wonderful family, dear friends and a musical talent to use for expressing his faith.

  • Ben Mills  (Saxaphone)

  • Steve Olsen (Trumpet) has been a member of the KC Gospel Orchestra since 1996.  He works as a Band Director at Rosemount High School Steve is a graduate of Concordia College - Moorhead, MN and has a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Minnesota.  

  • Dan Eckhoff (Trumpet)

  • Pete Davis (Trumpet) graduated with a degree in Music Education from Northwestern University.  While there, he studied trumpet with Vincent Cichowicz and Luther Didrickson, and performed in bands under John P. Paynter.  After college, he performed in a variety of jazz, Latin and commercial groups in the Chicago area. After an eight-year break from playing trumpet while living in Florida, Pete moved to the Twin Cities 12 years ago where he began performing again.   In addition to KCGO, Pete performs with a variety of jazz, R&B, and classical groups in the Twin Cities.

  • Dan Kuch -Daniel Anthony - (Trumpet), at the University of Minnesota, he played in jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, concert, and marching band, and was the Big-Ten Drum Major for the “Pride of Gold Country, The University of Minnesota Marching Band.” He earned the distinct honor of being awarded the Michael Jalma Memorial Music Scholarship in 1983. He has performed with the Whitesidewalls, played a year long stint with Power of 10, and has entertained on trumpet and vocals under the name Daniel Anthony at various night clubs, such as Konrad’s Bistro, Sophia’s, and Keys.  He is currently the director of the Roseville Community Band. He considers it an honor to play with the fine members in KCGO, and is very pleased to be playing in a group which proclaims Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

  • Eric Songer (Trombone) attended college at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire where he earned his degree in music and math education. Highlights of his college days included going to England with the jazz ensemble, organizing the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Festival, forming the nation’s largest collegiate chapter of International Association of Jazz Educators, performing officer duties in MENC and Phi Mu Alpha, and even DJ-ing on the collegiate radio station. Eric completed his Masters in Education at St. Thomas in 2004.  Eric is a band director at Chaska Middle School, and was named Teacher of the Year in District 112 in 2007. Eric also plays in the Calhoun Brass; subs in the rock cover band Power of 10; plays in the BellaGala Big Band and The Skyway Jazz Orchestra.

  • Tom Sherbet - Tommy T-bone- (Trombone) started playing his trombone when he was in the 4th grade and never stopped.  He started playing occasionally for Kev’s big band in early 2003 and became a regular member a few years later...which he absolutely loves! 

  • Monte Mumford (Trombone)

  • Michael Scott (Bass Trombone) has earned a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Minnesota, a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from S.U.N.Y. at Potsdam.  During the summer of 2007, he was invited to participate in the Summer Fellowship program at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  He is currently Director of Bands at Como Park High School in St. Paul.  In addition to serving as Resident Guest Conductor with the Shoreview Northern Lights Variety (community) Band, Dr. Scott has appeared as a guest conductor with a variety of ensembles, including the St. Paul All-High School Honor Band, Minnesota Symphonic Winds, and the Concertino North East Orchestra of GTCYS.  In August of 2006, he began serving as trombone coach for the Minnesota All-State Concert Band and currently coaches wind, brass, and percussion sections for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS).

  •  Gary Gratz (Piano) is the Chair of Music Studies, and Head of the Keyboard Department at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. He has been a professional musician for 30+ years, working throughout the industry as a performer, composer, arranger and programmer. He studied with Lorna Michelson, Herb Wigley, Manfredo Fest and Jill Dawe. Gary has performed with Tony Sandler, Marilyn McCoo, and Othello Molineaux, Brian Duncan and the Minnesota Vikings Band. He continues to perform regularly with Marv Dahlgren, Yolanda Bruce, the Sevilles and others. As a composer/synthesist with Herb Pilhofer Music, Gary composed music and designed sounds for numerous national TV ads including spots for Coca Cola, Discover Card, Target, and Porsche. He also performed on the soundtrack for the movie "Beautiful Girls" and coached the lead actor, Timothy Hutton, in piano technique.

  • Pete Karstad (Bass) started trombone in 5th grade: bass guitar in 11th. Graduated from Gustavus Adolphus with a B.A. in Music.  Studied trombone under Dr. Mark Lammers and Scott Bentall.  Played both instruments in the 24th Infantry Division band and the 4th Army band while in the service from 86-92.  Pete has played for such dignitaries as (first) President Bush, Chicago Mayor Daley, and General Colin Powell.  He's performed with such notable artists as Connie Evingson, Kurt Elling, and Frank Mantooth.  Pete is currently active on the local Cities scene with various groups of many styles including Pandemic, the Bend in the River Big Band, Humbled by Grace, and KCGO.

  • Jen Eckhoff (Vocals)

 


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