≡ Menu

Summer Jazz Faculty

Summer jazz faculty will include the following:

JOHN AYALA – Woodwinds

John AyalaJohn Ayala is a retired FUSD music teacher. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Woodwind Performance from CSU Fresno. He is an active professional player, doing session work, Broadway shows, and symphony work.

John is also active in promoting jazz education through JazzFresno and FMCMEA. He has played with Frank Gambale, Alex Acuna, Mel Torme, Arturo Sandoval and many others.

BEN BOONE – Woodwinds/Composition

Benjamin Boone -225Benjamin Boone’s music has been performed in twenty-six countries, appears on twenty-five CDs, has been featured in film, and has been the subject of multiple national broadcasts on National Public Radio and Bayericher Rundfunk. His music has garnered over eighteen national/international honors and awards. Most recently, Boone has composed a piece for the Verdi String Quartet (Germany) and collaborated with U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Levine on the blending of his narration of 29 of his poems with music.

As a saxophonist, Boone has performed extensively throughout the US and Europe. His debut jazz CD, The Benjamin Boone Quartet: Live broke into the national airplay charts and remained in the top 100 for three weeks and was in the top ten for internet play.

Boone is currently a Professor of Music at California State University Fresno where he has taught since 2000. He has received the University’s President’s Award of Excellence, the Provost Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, and the University Faculty Spirit of Service Award.

MIKE DANA – Guitar

mike danaMike Dana attended California State University, Fresno, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1975, and a Master’s degree in 1991 (both in music/composition.) He also attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and studied privately with jazz guitar legend Joe Pass. He began his teaching career at the Roosevelt School of the Arts in Fresno, where he founded the first high school classical guitar program in central California. In 1990, he took over the position as Director of Jazz Studies at FCC.

Under his direction, the jazz program at FCC has developed a national reputation. The Jazz Ensemble consistently earns top honors at major jazz festivals. Many students have gone on to complete their degrees at institutions like Cal Arts, Berklee, University of North Texas, and USC. Others have gone on to careers as professional musicians. Mike continues to be in demand as a guest artist, clinician, and teacher for jazz festivals and summer workshops throughout the western U.S.


Richard-GiddensRichard Lloyd Giddens Jr. is a bassist and percussionist who has performed throughout the world with artists including Charlie Haden, STOMP, The Lost and Found Orchestra, Robert Glasper, Larry Goldings, Ideal Bread, Joe LaBarbara, Mary Halvorson, Walter Smith III, The Chapin Sisters, Peter Bernstein, Gilad Hekselman and many others.

Giddens can be heard on these new releases from Orenda Records: Gavin Templeton Quartet Ballast, Daniel Rosenboom’s Burning Ghosts, and Ryan Dragon’s Kid Songs. Giddens is also currently working on the mixing and mastering of his first album as a leader with Sam Minaie and Nate Wood, featuring: Matt Otto, Adam Benjamin, Tomas Fujiwara, and Storm Nilson.


Brian Hamada – closet cowbell enthusiast, drummer and jazz educator – has performed with a host of modern jazz greats. As a member of the legendary CSU Fresno Jazz Band ‘A’ he toured Japan, Korea and Europe, performed at the Northsea and Montreux International Jazz Festivals, and in 1983 he was the recipient of a DownBeat jazz soloist award. He has been an active jazz and drum clinician / adjudicator throughout California & Nevada for over 25 years, maintains a vibrant drum studio in central California, and currently holds down the drum chair for the Fresno Jazz Composers Orchestra. Brian also teaches jazz drum set at CSU, Fresno.

Since 2005 he has drummed with the modern jazz group “bug”, featuring acclaimed saxophonist Peter Epstein, pianist/composer James Miley, guitarist Jeff Miley, and bassist Roger Shew. The group’s first CD “Murmur” was released in 2007. At the end of the band’s November 2008 “World Domination Tour, Part IV”, they recorded a new CD of original material, released in 2009.  In November 2010 the group traveled to Nepal to perform at Jazzmandu 2010. Locally he performs regularly with the Craig VonBerg Trio, the Mike Dana Trio, and the After Dinner Mints.

MAX HEMBD – Trumpet

Max-Hembd-225Max grew up in Clovis, CA in a musical family, and was schooled early on by the Central Valley’s best musicians. While attending UCLA, he was a featured member of small and large jazz and classical ensembles, and had the privileges of studying with Anthony Wilson and Kenny Burrell, and performing with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Wycliffe Gordon. In his graduate work at UCLA, Hembd’s innovative approach to the trumpet led to work in the Music Cognition and Acoustics Laboratory, an audio engineering certificate from the School of Film and Television, and certifications in Apple software and hardware.

Max has returned to his hometown to share these experiences with the next generation of musicians and scholars, and is currently a music instructor at Clovis Community College. He teaches a variety of music courses, including Jazz History and Appreciation and MIDI Music Production. When he isn’t teaching or performing, Max also tunes keyboard instruments and makes instruments of his own design.

ALANA HILL – Vocal Jazz

Alana-HillAlana Hill is a jazz vocalist, composer, and educator. Currently she teaches in the Fresno Unified School District, giving musical opportunities to 300-plus students every week. She earned a bachelors degree in Professional Music with a concentration in Jazz Composition and Music Business from Berklee College of Music. She has worked for many jazz education organizations and is currently the Artist Liaison for the Monterey Jazz Festival.

She is inspired by the creative arts and encourages new works in her life and the community. Alana has composed for many local projects and leads The ShapHill Jazz Project with her husband and bassist Kevin Hill.


photo by Tomas Ovalle

photo by Tomas Ovalle

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and currently living in Fresno, Karen Marguth has been an active performer throughout her life. Her professional background includes teaching, providing clinics for jazz vocalists and choirs, choreographing, directing and performing in regional theatres and international touring shows, singing in rock, blues, Americana, and jazz bands, doing voice-overs and studio work. She has performed as a featured vocalist at jazz festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and France.

Karen’s albums have received critical praise both in the U.S. and internationally with her last two offerings receiving 4 and 4 1/2 stars from DOWNBEAT magazine. She was hailed by JAZZ TIMES as “One of the finest American jazz vocalists,” and her latest release, “A Way With Words,” was listed among DOWNBEAT magazine’s “Best Album’s of 2013.” Learn more about Karen on her website.

LES NUNES – Trombone

les nunesLes has taught music 32 years and instructs three jazz bands, concert band and brass ensemble at Clovis High and Clark Intermediate. He is also the Jazz Trombone teacher at Fresno State and has taught at as an adjunct professor at Fresno Pacific, Fresno City College, and West Hills College. Les has hosted hundreds of jazz clinicians and concerts at his schools including Plas Johnson, Ed Thigpen, Charlie Shoemake, Gary Smulyan, Bill Cunliffe and other world class jazz musicians. His school groups consistently receive high superior ratings at every festival they attend.

In addition to working as a freelance trombonist throughout California, Les runs a weekly jam sessions for students at Ooi Japanese Cuisine in Clovis and is the Vice President of JazzFresno. He is the director and founder of The San Joaquin Valley Trombone Ensemble and the retro Folk Rock group Fire and Rain. He has directed the Fresno /Madera County Honor Jazz band and the Tulare/Kings County Honor Jazz band and been named the Jazz Educator of the year in Fresno-Madera County as well as the State of California.


Mark Prather is new to the Valley where he teaches elementary music in Fresno Unified.
He attended the University of North Texas and played lead in the jazz bands there, including the prestigious One O’Clock Lab Band. While living in the Dallas area, he played in numerous big bands, latin bands and shows, most notably playing lead trumpet for several years in the Dallas Cowboy Stadium band at all home games, accompanying the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders on national broadcasts.

He studied jazz with Dan Hearle, Ron Stout, and Bobby Shew, and currently studies with renown jazz educator and vibes legend Charlie Shoemake.

EVA SCOW – Mandolin/Strings

Eva ScowEva Scow was born in Fresno, California to a Oaxacan mother and an American father. She began playing music at a young age, starting on the piano at age 4. Soon after, she began studying mandolin with Evo Bluestein and classical violin. She began playing in orchestras and various groups, exploring different kinds of music from bluegrass to Brazilian.

In 2007 she released her debut CD as a co-leader with guitarist Dusty Brough “Sharon By the Sea.” Ms. Scow is also a member of the contemporary jazz quartet Espacio, and the group Lyquid Amber with Hans York and Evo Bluestein. She has also recorded with the Anthony Wilson Nonet, and can be heard on their CD “The Power of Nine” which also features Diana Krall. She is equally at home in the classical, folk and jazz idioms.


Barb ShinaverBarb Shinaver is a trombonist native to the Fresno area. She is the jazz director at Bullard High School and an elementary music teacher in Fresno Unified. She holds a B.A. in Music Education from Fresno State and an M.M. in Trombone Performance from the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

She is passionate about jazz education and is involved with the California Alliance for Jazz and the California Band Director’s Association to serve the California All-State Music Educator’s Conference to promote jazz statewide.
Barb is excited to continue pursuing her career in both classical and jazz performance while maintaining an active teaching schedule.


Craig VonBergCraig VonBerg is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, gigging musician, audio engineer/sound designer and educator. He holds a Bachelors degree in composition/theory from Fresno State and a masters degree in composition/theory and jazz performance from the University of Nevada, Reno. He teaches full time at Fresno State where he has taught subjects including Jazz Piano, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Improvisation & Theory, Jazz Arranging/Composition, Form and Analysis, Ear Training and History of Jazz & Rock. Craig also teaches Music Appreciation for West Hills Community College and Computer Music Production for Fresno City College, as well as maintaining a private piano studio.

Craig has worked with a variety of jazz notables and entertainers including Bob Hope, Mel Torme, Joe Williams, Eartha Kitt, Terence Blanchard, Bob Mintzer, Peter Erskine, David Garibaldi, Brian Lynch and many others.

The rest of his time is spent with his wife and two daughters and playing on his church’s worship team.

TOM WILSON – Woodwinds

tom-wilsonTom Wilson is a saxophonist, composer, and educator from Madera, CA.  In 2012 he graduated with a bachelors degree in Professional Music with a concentration in Global Jazz Studies from Berklee College of Music.  He has performed and studied with such artists as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Ben Street, Earth Wind and Fire, Ralph Peterson and Wayne Shorter and many others.  

For the past 3 years , he has worked at the Danilo Perez foundation teaching neighborhood youth in the heart of Panama.  He currently attends graduate school at California Institute of the Arts.