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Brian Kirk

Drummer/Percussionist/Composer/Educator, born in Indianapolis, Indiana where he attended Indiana University, a graduate of California State University East Bay (B.A. Music) and New York University (M.A. Jazz Contemporary Music). The son of Indianapolis Hall of Fame drummer and educator Dr. Willis Kirk, Brian grew up in San Francisco where he performed with Gladys Knight, Marlena Shaw, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Bishop Norman Williams, John Handy, and Jessica Williams. Brian spent ten years in New York City where he was a member of Lou Donaldson, Jack McDuff, and Little Jimmy Scott Bands. He also performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Locke, Andrew Hill, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and the Count Basie Orchestra. He has also appeared with Piano Duo Landsberg and Yount, in concerts featuring the Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia, Pops Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, and the Miami Symphony to name a few.

Mr. Kirk was also first call on New York's Broadway show scene performing in "Ain't Misbehavin'" for over ten years (one year with the production featuring The Pointer Sisters), "Five Guys Named Moe", "Fiddler on the Roof", "Les Miserables", "Jelly's Last Jam", featuring Gregory Hines, and "Bring on the Noise Bring in the Funk", featuring Savion Glover. Brian has made numerous recordings including the soundtracks from "Philadelphia" starring Tom Hanks, "The Money Train", "A Rage in Harlem", starring Forrest Whitaker, and the original soundtracks of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks-Fire Walk With Me", "Five Guys Named Moe", and The Pointer Sisters' "Ain't Misbehavin'" on Sony Records. 

Mr. Kirk is a Professor of Jazz, Electronic Music, Music Theory, Percussion at Seattle Central College, in Seattle, Washington. He is a Whitely Scholar (University of Washington) and is an active member of the Washington Music Educators Association, a collective of Washington State educators, whose purpose is to provide students with a strong foundation in music education and musical performance.

Jim Sisko


Jim Sisko has become one of the most sought after teachers, and performers in the Northwest. The Jim Sisko Quintet has been featured at countless festivals and concert venues, including the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, The Art of Jazz Series and Jazz Under the Stars. He has performed with The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, The Manhattan Transfer, and the rock band Yes to name a few. 


Jim has served as principal trumpet for the Yakima Symphony, and has performed with the Seattle Symphony as well.  He can be heard on over 40 motion picture soundtracks, and many independent c.d. projects. Sisko’s trumpet students are well versed in both classical and jazz styles, and are consistently recognized as some of the strongest players in the region.


Jim has served as a Camp Director for Jazz camps throughout the Northwest, and is currently the director of the Shoreline Jazz Camp.  In addition to his home teaching studio, Jim is the director of the Instrumental Music program at Bellevue College and is the director of the award winning Bellevue College Jazz Bands

Chris Bruya

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Chris Bruya has been involved in music education for more than 37 years, teaching high school, community college and university, the last 20 years at CWU, retiring in 2021 as Emeritus Professor of Music. While at CWU he pioneered an improvisation sequence, built a small-group jazz program, and the jazz big band was recognized as one of the finest in the country, performing at the Montreux, North Sea and the Next Generation jazz festivals and three Jazz Education Network conferences. In 2015 the band placed first at the Next Generation Festival, which included a performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In 2015 the band was featured on Barney McClure’s CD Show Me! and the 2008 In A Mellow Tone. Most recently the band won the undergraduate asynchronous recording category of the 2022 Downbeat Magazine Student Awards based upon work completed during his final year at CWU. There are over 150 live-recorded YouTube videos of the band, recognized as some of the strongest examples of the big band literature, being used as examples of “how-to-play” by ensembles throughout the world. Bruya has served on WMEA, OMEA and IAJE boards in both Oregon and Washington, presented at regional conferences, directed honor bands in New York state, Nevada, and Texas, while in retirement remaining in demand as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the Northwest and beyond. In 2016 WMEA honored him with the Collegiate Educator of the Year award, and in 2022 inducted him into the WMEA Hall of Fame.

Taryn Zickefoose



Taryn Zickefoose teaches band and choir at Lake Stevens Middle School in Lake Stevens, Washington. She received her AA in music at Mt. Hood Community College (2011) and her BA in Percussion Performance/Music Education from Central Washington University (2015). In 2022, she completed her Masters degree at American Band College. Taryn has performed with northwest based groups including Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra, The Jazz Conspiracy All-Teacher Jazz Band, Cascade Percussion Ensemble, Blue Street Voices, and Last Call. She has shared the stage with Dawn Clement, Matt Wilson, Dee Daniels, Curtis Stigers, and Sherrie Maricle. In Spring 2018, Taryn co-started the Mount Pilchuck Region All Girls Jazz Band, featuring 6th-12th graders from 12 different schools. In addition to being an active clinician around the PNW, She runs a private percussion and piano studio in Marysville.

Jeff Baker

Called “ of the best male vocalists in the jazz world today,” by WCLK in Atlanta, Jeff Baker has become one of the most significant talents in the next generation of jazz vocalists.  His diverse musical recordings, exciting live performances, and infectious energy and personality have gained him accolades from critics and listeners alike.  Baker has headlined numerous festivals and clubs, and has recorded, performed, and shared Festival billing with some of jazz music’s top artists including: Ray Brown, Gene Harris, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, Steve Wilson, Marquis Hill, the Yellow Jackets, Mose Allison, Kenny Werner, Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe LaBarbera, Bruce Barth, Darrell Grant, Karrin Allyson, Nancy King, Henry Butler, Dave Frishberg, Orrin Evans, George Colligan, and many more!   

Jeff has performed throughout the U.S., and has enjoyed performance engagements in central Europe and South Africa.  His four critically acclaimed CD releases on the Origin/OA2 Records imprint have charted on the ‘Jazzweek’ International Radio Top 50, have been played on over 200 stations internationally, were Top 5 on NPR’s nationally syndicated “Jazz Works” radio program, and were #1 on stations in Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Portland, Buffalo, St. Louis, Cape Town, SA and New Zealand.   

Baker is a sought after jazz educator, adjudicating numerous festivals, and working in clinics with some of the nations very best high school and college jazz programs.  Bakers students have won over 100 Top Awards at festivals and competitions throughout the U.S., including being 4x finalists to the Monterey Jazz Festival ‘Next Generation Competition’ and winning 10 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards, including the 2010, 12' & 13' High School Vocal Solo Winners, and the 2012 Winner for Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble.  Additionally, Baker’s students have been invited to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and the National Cathedral.  

Jeff released his fifth recording, 'PHRASES' in 2018 featuring: Brian Blade, Steve Wilson, Marquis Hill, Clark Sommers, Gregory Uhlman, Geof Bradfield & Darrell Grant.  Baker is an ACDA Certified Clinician/Adjudicator, a current member of JEN,  NAFME, and NARAS or the GRAMMY Foundation).  Jeff Baker resides in Portland, OR, is the former Director of the Jazz+Contemporary Voice at Portland State University, and is the Co-Founder of the Jazz Forward Competition.

Thomas Almli

Thomas Almli has been Director of Choral Music Activities at Bellevue College since 2002 and is the current Chairman of the Music Department. In addition to directing the vocal jazz ensemble “Celebration”, Mr. Almli directs The BC Concert Choir and Chamber Choir, teaches Music Theory, History of Jazz, History of Rock and Roll, and is active as a private voice and piano instructor.

Prior to Bellevue College, Mr. Almli was the Director of Choral Activities at Pierce College in Tacoma, WA. In the five years at Pierce College, he established highly acclaimed and award winning concert choirs and vocal jazz ensembles, also giving multiple IAJE and MENC performances.

Awards include: Tacoma Arts Commission Outstanding Educator, Bellevue Arts Commission Excellence Award, and Bellevue College Pillar of the Foundation Award as well as Outstanding Performance awards from ACDA, NWACDA, IAJE, and JEN. Thomas Almli attended Pacific Lutheran University and Luther College for undergraduate studies (BAE Music), and the University of Washington for graduate school (MEd) and is currently a DMA student at U of W.

Mr. Almli has been involved with multiple prestigious opera companies including Dorian Opera Theater and the Seattle Opera Company. Thomas continues to perform as a vocal jazz artist, as well as in opera and musical theater productions. Thomas is a sought after clinician, adjudicator, arranger, and composer. He is an active member of ADCA, WMEA, NAfME, NCCO, JEN and NATS.

Dave Barduhn

Dave Barduhn received his education at Puccini Elementary, Buddy Rich JH, Count Basie HS, Sarah Vaughan CC, and the University of Stan Kenton. He has played piano for Ernie Andrews, Dianne Reeves, Diane Shuur, Mark Murphy, and several Stan Kenton Alumni Bands. In 2014 Dave conducted the Washington All-State Honor Jazz Choir featuring Don Shelton. His extensive list of jazz band charts are published with Hal Leonard and his vocal jazz with Goombah (SMP) Publications. After 30 years of teaching both vocal and instrumental jazz (his VJ group Genesis receiving 8 Downbeat awards and performing at 10 national conventions while at Mt. Hood CC) Dave is now on parole. However by a pardon from Pope Francis, Dave’s retirement was briefly interrupted and for two years was the jazz band director at the University of Portland. You are now to refer to him as “Father Barduhn”. So there!

Kristina Ploeger-Hekmatpanah

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Dr. Kristina Ploeger-Hekmatpanah is a Full Professor serving as Director of Choral Activities at EWU where she teaches Symphonic Choir, Concert Choir, Collegians (Vocal Jazz), Choral Methods, Conducting, and Applied Voice. She was the Artistic Director of the Spokane Area Youth Choirs for 13 years (2002-2015), and the Director of Spokane Symphony’s Chorale (2015-2022).  Kristina taught Middle School choir at St. George’s School, and High School choirs at West Valley HS, Everett HS, Ephrata HS, and AC Davis HS. Recently Kristina has enjoyed performing with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra, Spokane Symphony, and a variety of colleagues performing jazz casuals. She has earned degrees from EdCC, CWU, EWU and the University of Kentucky. She was awarded Spokane’s “YWCA Woman of Achievement in Arts and Culture Award.”  A member of ACDA, NAfME, EWMEA, and WMEA, Kristina has served on the WA ACDA Board in many capacities. Directing Honor Groups and All-State Choirs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Kentucky has given her the chance to work with a wonderful array of choristers and directors.

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