The Kennedy Center

The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra


The new Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band founded by baritone saxophonist Brad Linde and co-directed by Linde and Joe Herrera. Debuted on April 19, 2010, the BCJO now presents a variety of music from big band literature and feature some of the District's best musicians on Monday nights at the historic Bohemian Caverns. Music from Ellington, Basie, Strayhorn, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, Maria Schneider and originals by band members will embrace and challenge the tradition of big band repertoire.

Brent Birckhead (alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute) was destined to be an acclaimed musician. At the age of ten he wrapped his fingers around his first saxophone and has never put it down since. Under the tutelage of Louis Tibbs and Charlie Young Brent has become a dynamically versatile saxophonist of many genres. With a style incomparable to any, Brent has traveled worldwide entertaining various audiences with a love for jazz. His talent for music has earned him the honor of gracing the same stages as many legendary jazz performers such as Benny Golson, McCoy Tyner, Geri Allen, Wallace Roney, Eddie Henderson, Andrew White and Bill Pierce. Brent’s talents have also given him the privilege of performing at the 2004 and 2005 Kennedy Center Honors, 2007 Nagano Jazz Festival, Amway Japan, Capitol Jazz Cruise, Blues Alley and many more prominent venues. Brent has volunteered to bring youth closer to musical artistry, by spreading his infectious love of rhythms, harmony, and melody. Brent graduated,magna cum laude,from the prestigious Howard University with a bachelor of music education . Brent is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Jazz studies. Yet to be signed by a major label, Brent constantly continues to grow musically, always pushing the envelope, and bringing new and innovative twist to this timeless genre of music.

Sarah Hughes (alto saxophone, flute, clarinet) is a saxophonist and music educator in the Washington D.C./Maryland area. She teaches band and orchestra at three public schools in Prince George's county and also teaches woodwinds privately at the Del Ray School of Music in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2008 Sarah graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She studied for four years with the world-renowned classical saxophonist, Dale Underwood. Currently Sarah is the alto saxophonist and woodwind doubler in the Brad Linde Ensemble. She has performed with the 8-10 piece group at such D.C. venues as Blues Alley, Twins Jazz, the Smithsonian, the Mansion at Strathmore, and Bohemian Caverns as well as Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia and the Iridium and Smalls Jazz Club in New York City. With the ensemble, she has shared the stage with legendary bebop pianist, Freddie Redd and original Tristanoites Ted Brown and Lee Konitz along with New York musicans Dan Tepfer and Joel Frahm. Sarah makes regular trips to New York to study with Barry Harris in his Tuesday jazz workshops and has also had lessons with the great Lee Konitz.

Elijah Balbed (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute) A Washington DC native, he has established himself as one of the top young saxophonists in the area, most recently receiving the Best New Jazz Musician of 2010 from the Washington City Paper. His credits include performing with notable artists such as McCoy Tyner, Danilo Perez, Johnny O'Neal, and Tarus Mateen and playing at Bohemian Caverns, Blues Alley, Strathmore, Kennedy Center, and Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. Elijah currently studies with Charlie Young at Howard University and is a member of the Howard University Jazz Ensemble and Jazztet.

Leigh Pilzer (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute) -Leigh Pilzer is a native of the Washington, DC area and earned her degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She has toured with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra. She has arranged numerous compositions for a variety of big bands and brass quintets and co-leads the Jen Krupa-Leigh Pilzer Quintet.

In addition to her academic work at Berklee, Leigh earned Masters degrees in Jazz Studies and in Saxophone Performance from the University of Maryland and is currently working on her doctorate in Music Theory at the Catholic University of America.

ALUMNUS: Charles Phaneuf (tenor saxophone, clarinet) has played the saxophone since the age of eight. He grew up in North Carolina studying with Greg Gelb and Craig Whittaker, playing in his own projects since high school and attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied with Jim Ketch. He's since played a number of genres, from funk to gamelan to gospel, but enjoys nothing more than playing with the ladies and gentlemen of the BCJO every Monday night.

Brad Linde-Director (baritone saxophone, flute, clarinet) is a saxophonist and bandleader living in the Washington D.C. metro area. His approach to the saxophone and improvising has drawn comparison to the melodic nature and easy swing of modern jazz titans including Lester Young, Allen Eager, Wardell Gray, Zoot Sims, Warne Marsh, and Lucky Thompson.

He has performed with jazz greats such as Barry Harris, Lee Konitz, Butch Warren, Freddie Redd, Dan Tepfer, Chris Byars, and Ari Roland He has performed at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, The Smithsonian Institute, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia and Birdland, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, and Smalls Jazz Club in New York. He appears as a leader at D.C. jazz clubs including Blues Alley, U-topia, Bohemian Caverns, and Twins Jazz. He leads the Brad Linde Ensemble (BLE), a 10 piece ensemble devoted to exploring and expanding the bebop style of jazz.

Mike "Bags" Davis (lead trumpet) - Attended North Texas State and played in various small groups, big bands, dance bands, swings bands, Latin bands, the circus, rodeo, Ice shows, etc. Performed with various stars including Mel Torme, Danny Thomas, Frank Gorshin, Tony Orlando, Robert Goulet, and famous jazz artists Paul Jeffrey. Joe Chambers, Tommy Flanagan, John Scofield, Slide Hampton, and Randy Brecker. Sat in one complete set with Mel Lewis-Thad Jones Big Band with Bob Brookmeyer and Jerome Richardson. Subbed several times on lead trumpet. with Tom Harrell - Sam Jones small big band. Played lead trumpet in the Annual Sauter Finnegan Tribute Orchestra concert for two years and played lead trumpet with Machito and Larry Elgart. Appeared with Gerry Mulligan's Concert Big band as lead/ jazz trumpet and on the recording "Wade in the Water". With Mulligan toured England, Wales, Ireland and played at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newark Jazz Festival. Played lead trumpet with Charles Mingus Big Band and on last two recordings: "World of Drums" and "Something Like a Bird". Performed at the Newport Jazz Festival with what was to become the first Mingus Reunion Band. Played with Dallas Jazz Orchestra at Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in mid 80s.

Joe Herrera-Co Director (trumpet)- Joe Herrera is a Trumpet player living in the DC area. Joe was born and raised in Yuma Arizona. He began playing trumpet at the age of 10. His real interest for the horn took off in high school when his music teacher introduced him to jazz vinyl. Joe studied with Fred Forney and Grant Wolf at MCC in their acclaimed jazz program for two years. He then attended Arizona State University where he studied with Chuck Marohnic. While living in Phoenix Joe became an in demand trumpet player playing with groups ranging from jazz combos, big bands, entertainment agencies, small and large scale salsa bands, brass ensembles and experimental music groups. Joe also led several bands including The Phoenix Jazz Orchestra (big band), Convergence (four piece progressive jazz) and Take No Prisoners (a 6 piece Art Blakey Tribute Band).

Joe moved to the District in July of 03'. Since that time he has become an active musician in the DC, NOVA, MD area. You can see Joe perform with his own ensembles Joe Herrera's Landscaping Crew (6 piece original music ensemble), Innerloop (an electric DnB group), Jazz meets Radiohead (an ensemble exploring the music of Radiohead), Joe Janel and Anthony (a trio of trumpet, cello and guitar playing improvised music and beautiful melodies), Unity (A band celebrating the music of Larry Young) and The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra (a 17 piece jazz orchestra exploring swinging big band music from the greats as well as band memebers). You can also see Joe perform on a regular basis with The Funk Ark, Cheick Hamala Diabete, Touch Acoustra, The Brad Linde Ensemble, The Rodney Richardson Trio + 1, Janel and Anthony and various other ensembles.

Brad Clements (trumpet)-

Donvonte McCoy (trumpet)-

Corey Wallace (trombone)-On the horizon is a young, burgeoning jazz musician from Baltimore City, MD that is reaching out to all those who are listening. As a trombonist, composer, arranger, and teacher, Corey A. Wallace believes in taking every opportunity to experience life and music. With a knack for engaging people, listening, and soulfully telling the truth in his playing, he is grasping the attention of many. His hard work, love for playing, and determination led him to Penn State University to study with Professor Mark L. Lusk (trombone) and M. Dan Yoder (jazz studies). Some opportunities he was able to experience include touring Spain with the Philharmonic Orchestra, performing with the Wind Ensemble throughout Pennsylvania, receiving superior ratings with the Centre Dimensions jazz band at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival (both as an individual, a part of the trombone section, and band), performing in the pit orchestra of many headlining musicals in State College, PA and in the Penn State’s School of Theatre, and performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the National Collegiate Wind Ensemble all while at Penn State University.

He has performed or studied with a host of jazz luminaries, such as Ben Wolfe, Walt Weiskopf, Steve Rudolph, John Fedchock, Jim McNeely, Rick Hirsch, Chris Vadala, Tim Powell, Jim Riley, Ronnie Burrage, Vincent Gardner, Irvin Mayfield, Dale Orris, Jim McFalls, Tim Hagans, Steve Davis, Whit Williams, Craig Alston, Tim Green, Jeff Reed, and Howard Johnson. With a very deep interest and connection to America’s classical music, jazz, he most recently studied with international jazz artist Jim McFalls at Towson University in Baltimore, MD, where he graduated in May of 2010 with a Master’s Degree in Music and emphasis in Jazz/Commerical Music. Wallace is also the jazz instructor at Baltimore’s only performing arts high school, the Baltimore School for the Arts, coaching combos, teaching jazz improvisation, and directing the big band.

For the past four summers, Corey has been performing with The Soda Pops, Hersheypark’s resident funk/R&B band, where in 2009 they received the IAAPA award, an international award for Best Entertainment Group in an amusement/theme park, while under his leadership as show captain and music director. He maintains an active schedule as a professional musician throughout the Mid-Atlantic area. As time goes on, keep an ear and an eye out for what this unbelievable talent has to say!

Steve Shaw (trombone)-

Ryan McGeorge (valve trombone)-Born and raised in San Diego CA, Ryan fell in love with music at a very young age. Quickly rejecting the piano and saxophone, he realized the more uncommon brass instrument called the Euphonium suited him much better and he never looked back. Ryan is currently a Euphonium Player with “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, and has held that position since 2004. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music from the University of North Texas in Denton, TX where he studied Euphonium with the great Dr. Brian Bowman. While in school studying classical music, he fell in love with jazz and decided to double on the also unusual Valve-Trombone due to its similarity to the Euphonium. He became an active freelancer and clinician in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, performing frequently with groups such as the Dallas Wind Symphony. Later he became Euphonium Soloist with the Tony and Emmy award winning Broadway show "Blast!" where he was a member of the first National Tour.

Since relocating to the Washington DC area, he has focused much on jazz improvisation, composing, and arranging. Most notably his arrangements can be heard on the premier album of the Classical/Jazz crossover chamber group “Off Bass Brass” entitled Knock Yourself Out. He also currently leads and headlines an Electronic Jazz Fusion group called “Euphonasia,” and in 2011 they independently released their debut album entitled Dark Blue Hair. On this album you can hear many of Ryan’s original compositions and arrangements.

Ryan enjoys playing the Valve-Trombone opposed to the more common Slide in the BCJO to add a unique flavor to the trombone section. It also highlights the tradition of the Duke Ellington’s use of the instrument through Valve-Trombonist Juan Tizol.

Shannon Gunn (bass trombone, arranger)-earned her Bachelor of Music Industry degree from James Madison University and a certificate to teach K-12 music from Michigan State University. She currently teaches music technology at Woodbridge Senior High School full time while attending George Mason University as a part time graduate student in Jazz Studies. She has studied trombone under Harry Watters, Wycliffe Gordon, and Jeannie Little. While playing lead trombone at Michigan State, she had the opportunity to play with Billy Taylor, Rodney Whitacker, and Wycliffe Gordon. She freelances around the DC Metro Area, including performances with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, Brad Linde Ensemble, Reunion Music Society, American Festival Pops Orchestra, Swing Shift Big Band, Northern Lights, James Bazen Jazz Band, George Mason ensembles, Manassas Chorale, and Loudoun Jazz Ensemble. She currently resides in Bristow, VA with her husband, Timothy, and her dog, Faith.

Amy Bormet (piano) is an active pianist, vocalist, arranger and composer who received her Master’s degree in May 2010 from the Howard University Jazz Department. With the Howard University Jazz Ensemble Amy performed at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater with NEA Jazz Master McCoy Tyner and toured Japan last May. Amy was selected to participate in the Kennedy Center's Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency Program in March 2010.

In addition to her piano performances Amy is a prolific composer. Her compositions have been performed on the HU Jazztet and HUJE 2009 CDs. She was commissioned to arrange her composition "Lightning" for the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and HU's Afro Blue that premiered April 24, 2010 as a part of Jazz Appreciation Month on the National Mall. In May 2010, Amy was chosen to be in the inaugural Mary Lou William’s Emerging Artist Workshop at the Kennedy Center. Her debut recording of original jazz compositions will be released in July 2010.

Rodney Richardson (guitar) is a professional guitarist, born, raised, living and working in Washington DC. He attended the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts and Howard University where he studied with Gerry Kunkel, Charlie Young and Charles Covington. His studies culminated with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies.

Rodney has performed with jazz greats Donald Byrd, Jimmy Heath, Yusef Lateef, Keter Betts and Grady Tate, among others. While a graduate student at Howard University he traveled with the HU Jazz Ensemble to Japan twice to perform all over the country, including the first annual Nagano Jazz Festival.

Though well versed in many genres and constantly exploring and expanding his repertoire, Rodney’s music is rooted in jazz. Drawing from some of the major musical influences in his life, including Wes Montgomery, Bud Powell, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Barney Kessel, and Kenny Garrett, Rodney collaborates with the many talented DC-based musicians, constantly striving to preserve and evolve the uniquely DC jazz sound.

Rodney spends his days teaching guitar to all levels of students and his nights playing all over town. His current projects include performing with his own quartet and trio, Will Rast’s Funk Ark, Six String Theory, and performing the music of Bud Powell.

Eliot Seppa (bass)-

Larry Ferguson (drums) is a 1999 graduate of Western Kentucky University (BME) with a degree in music education and a 2001 graduate of the University of Michigan (MM) with a Masters degree in percussion performance where he was also the recipient of the Avedis Zildjian scholarship. Larry is currently a member of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, and a busy performer in the Washington D.C. area playing regularly with the U-liners, Little Pink, the Matt Rippetoe group, the Anthony Pirog group, the Dan Roberts Band, the Jackfields, and freelances in many different genres.

Dave McDonald (drums)- a native of Decatur, Illinois, is one of the most in demand percussionists currently living in the Washington DC area. Beside maintaining an independent performance and teaching career, he also serves as drummer for the USAF Airmen of Note. David has performed and recorded with the New York Voices, Kurt Elling, Paquito D'Rivera, Karrin Allyson, Bobby Shew, Phil Woods, Al Jarreau, Rufus Reid, Gary Smulyan, Joey Defrancesco, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Doc Severinsen. He is a 2005 graduate of DePaul University, with a BM in Percussion Performance. Additionally, he has also studied music at New England Conservatory and Catholic University. Before moving to the District in 2006, David was an active freelance musician in Chicago, performing with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Illinois Philharmonic, Fulcrum Point New Music, New World Symphony, Rob Parton's Jazz Tech Big Band, Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, and various contemporary jazz and rock outfits.

Watch Past Performances

Video 10/29/2017: The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra

The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra (BCJO) is a 17-piece big band founded by baritone saxophonist Brad Linde and co-directed by Linde and Joe Herrera. Debuted on April 19, 2010 at the historic Bohemian Caverns, the BCJO presented a variety of music from big band literature every Monday night until the closing of the club in March 2016. The BCJO continues to perform and collaborate with guest artists at various venues throughout the District and regularly performs at Levine Music and Milkboy Arthouse in Maryland.

Video 8/19/2016: Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra

The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band that presents a variety of jazz styles— from standard literature including Ellington, Basie, Strayhorn, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, and Maria Schneider, to originals by band members who will embrace and challenge the tradition of big band repertoire.

Video 6/5/2012: The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra

The 17-piece house band at the historic Bohemian Caverns presents a variety of music from big band literature and features some of the District’s best musicians. Part of the DC Jazz Festival.