String bassist Paul Keller is a Michigan jazz hero; he loves his life in Saline, MI where he lives with his wife and two kids and performs locally – in Detroit and across his home state of Michigan. Paul wear many jazz hats: He leads several successful and busy jazz ensembles including his 27-year old, 15-piece big band The Paul Keller Orchestra; he’s an in-demand side man, a prolific composer, a creative and skilled arranger, an enthusiastic and innovative jazz educator, a recording company owner and producer, and a nationally recognized recording artist. Paul can be heard every week at his home base – Zal Gaz Grotto in Ann Arbor (on Mondays with his PKO big band and on Tuesdays with the Easy Street Jazz Band).
Keller spent several years on the road with guitarist Russell Malone and later with singer/pianist Diana Krall. Together with Russell and Diana, Paul recorded Diana’s Grammy-nominated GRP/Impulse CD All For You. These days, Paul performs frequently with guitarist/singer and jazz super-star John Pizzarelli – they just toured Brazil for a week. Paul travels the world to play special concerts and festivals with a myriad of jazz stars including Jackie Ryan, Scott Hamilton, Larry Vuckovich, Benny Green, and Warren and Alan Vache.
Upon moving to Michigan in the fall of 2001 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Michigan (MM, ’03), Sarah crossed paths various jazz musicians that jump started her musical pursuits in a new direction. With composer and musician Chad Hughes (Sir Wick Productions) Sarah began to gain some attention as a vocalist. Sarah’s “Thank You, Lord” on the debut CD Sir Wick; An Interpretation of A Universal Language has been reviewed as one of the best independent releases in 2008. Other Sir Wick recordings include; Portrait of Rafael with saxophonist Rafael Statin; and Christmas at Wick’s. In 2014, she finished her first Big Band CD, “Happiness” with the PKO, having released “At Sundown” in 2012 featuring the At Sundown jazz quartet and most recently the 2016 release of “My Blue Heaven”. She is also featured on the 2014 release of Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Band’s “Do Something”. She is currently recording her 2018 solo album, “Medicine Man”.
Sarah is passionate about all things music and her grace and musicianship in all styles and genres continues to attract new fans. It has continued through her regular associations with Paul Keller and through performances with many great Michigan and national jazz artists such as Ellen Rowe, Alex Graham, Rafael Statin and Johnny Trudell.
Sarah D’Angelo’s professional clarinet resume includes stints with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, and Livonia Symphony Orchestra. Her vocal work history includes appearances at various jazz festivals throughout Michigan including the Grand Labor Day Jazz Festival on Mackinac Island, the Michigan Jazz Festival, the GRandJazzFest and Brighton’s Smokin’ Jazz and BBQ Festival. Sarah’s love for a variety of styles of music and has led to a long association with the pop/rock band NINE, Sarah and the Deadlies and the Detroit’s Blue Water Kings. Sarah sings and plays clarinet regularly in the metro Detroit area as a freelance artist and with such groups as the Paul Keller Orchestra/Septet/Trio, The Easy Street Jazz Band and The “At Sundown” Quartet.
Paul Keller says, “Our audiences adore Sarah and so do her bandmates. She possesses a natural and intuitive jazz feel, spot-on pitch control, a deep devotion to the study of her art, and a laid-back, friendly demeanor that makes working with her a genuine pleasure! Sarah’s charming and intimate singing style resonate with her listeners and her beautiful clarinet playing is an extra added bonus!”
Pianist Adam Mosely is originally from Greenville, South Carolina. In 2014, he graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, where he met saxophonist and Grand Hotel music director Alex Graham. Graham recruited Adam to Mackinac Island, where he met Paul Keller and a new musical brotherhood was born. Adam shows great admiration for George Shearing, and is also a devotee of the music of Erroll Garner, James P. Johnson and Oscar Peterson. You’d never guess by hearing his fully formed, mature piano style that Adam is just 30 years old.
Vibraphonist Cary Kocher trained at the University of Michigan under Michael Udow, the late Charles Owen, and Salvatore Rabbio. Kocher plays with latin jazz group Los Gatos and co-leads a classic vibraphone quartet with bassist Paul Keller. Paul Keller’s life-long buddy, the two played together in the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony in 1977-80. Cary recently retired as Forsythe Middle School band director after a distinguished 32-year career as a music educator for the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Cary also taught at the University of Michigan for 12 years.
Ralph Tope (Detroit, MI) picked up the guitar at the age of 16 after hearing Detroit jazz guitar stalwart Perry Hughes. Ralph went to see Perry play constantly, sitting quietly in the audience and intently watching every move. After many months of appearing at his gigs but never approaching Perry, Mr. Hughes finally asked Ralph why he kept coming out. Ralph exclaimed he wanted to play guitar like him and after much prodding Perry agreed to teach him. Within a few short years, Ralph became and remains an in-demand player on the Detroit scene.
He enrolled at Michigan State University in 2006, where he met and studied under former organissimo guitarist Joe Gloss and Rodney Whittaker, former bassist for the Jazz At Lincoln Center orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis and current head of the Michigan State University Jazz program.
Ralph’s style is influenced by the best of the great jazz guitarists including George Benson, Grant Green, and Wes Montgomery. Ralph’s current favorite is Peter Bernstein and the two have hooked up for lessons and chats often.
Ralph brings his own voice and approach to organissimo. He playing is full of fire and audiences love his entertaining expressiveness on stage.