Leader Mike Vax is a product of the City of Oakland, CA, and the Oakland Public Schools, having graduated from Oakland High School in 1960. He has led a big band off and on since his days at College of the Pacific over 45 years ago. A few of his credits include being first trumpet, soloist and road manager of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, as well as being co-leader while Mr. Kenton was recovering from surgery; leading the Dukes of Dixieland in New Orleans; producing and/or music directing for over 30 jazz festivals; and performing workshops for more than 2000 high schools, colleges and universities all over the world. He is an International Artist for the GETZEN COMPANY.
The goals of the big band are to perform meaningful music, talk about the importance of the jazz heritage in America, bring jazz music to young people, and to offer our audiences a relaxed, entertaining atmosphere.
Friends of Big Band Jazz is the support group for The Mike Vax Big Band and the Stan Kenton Alumni Band. This nonprofit corporation sends students to summer jazz camps on scholarships, donates funds to high school music programs and youth orchestras, and raises money for many good causes that have to do with music and education. They also sponsor the Kenton Alumni Tours and the Prescott Jazz Summit, which brings students and professional musicians together for performances and workshops.