Meet A Few Members of Our Musical Family...
The anchor of our Rhythm Section...
Matt Matson earned his Bachelors and Masters degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California, and went on to become a full time musician at the Disneyland Resort. Some of the groups you may have seen him performing with over the last 25 years (on drums or banjo) include the Jambalaya Jazz Band, the River Rascals, the Green Army Men, the Trash Can Trio, the Magic Kingdom Korps, and the Disneyland Band.
Matt has also keeps busy as an educator, clinician and freelance musician. He has been a percussion instructor for Azuza Pacific University, University of Southern California, Hemet High School, Northview High School, Riverside King High School, and Walnut High School. In 2018 he published his first book entitled Melodic Stick Control. When not performing at the “happiest place on earth,” he has kept busy performing with local artists, composers and bands including Tom Kubis, Michael Kamen, the Side Street Strutters, Swingtown, and the Swing Cats.
What makes the GASO opportunity so special for me?
I have spent the last 6 years learning over 250 Dixieland jazz standards on the banjo. One of the unexpected side effects of this endeavor has been a greater love and appreciation of some of the greatest American songs ever composed. I look forward to playing many of those same songs with some great musicians!
And we’re sure Matt will help GASO to be the “Happiest Orchestra On Earth!”
Leading the Brass Section!
Willie Murillo is proud to be a product of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association public school system. His journey began as the only student in SCSBOA history to be chosen as principle trumpet in both Honor Jazz Band and Honor Orchestra all four years of his high school career. Since then, Willie, a GRAMMY Award winner, has made his mark as one of the top studio trumpeters, music educators, commercial writers and producers in the world!
Willie can be heard on countless albums, motion picture soundtracks and television recordings. Some of there artists Willie has performed with include Christina Aguilera, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Joe Williams, James Brown, Kelly Clarkson, Steve Tyrell, Brian Setzer, Julie Andrews, Rosemary Clooney, Diannne Schurr, Natalie Cole and many others.
In recent years, Willie has participated in clinics or as a guest artist at over 400 schools, often volunteering his time and performing pro bono. And that’s worldwide! In addition, Willie has harnessed his entrepreneurial skills to impact jazz education by launching Varsity Publishing, a music publishing company that has successfully produced jazz curriculum and repertoire for junior high and high school jazz ensembles.
Willie is married to our lovely, incredible female jazz vocalist, Becky Martin.
We're excited to have Willie in our trumpet section and as a featured soloist!
Making Musical History! Again!
French hornist, Stephanie O'Keefe, is one of the busiest musicians in southern California! Stephanie performs in several orchestras and jazz ensembles as well as being in demand for studio recording work. She has enjoyed performing and recording the Great American Songbook with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Andy Williams, Vic Damone, Glenn Frey, James Torme, Marty Paich, Michael Bolton, Phil Woods, and Diana Krall, as well as with The Clayton Hamilton Orchestra, The Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra, and the American Jazz Institute.
And we should mention that Stephanie is also the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Musicians Union - American Federation of Musicians Local 47 - the FIRST Woman President in their 123 year History!
Why is the Great American Songbook so important to Stephanie?
“My first introduction to the Great American Songbook came when I was a little girl, listening to my Mother sing in the kitchen. Years later, when I began my career in Las Vegas, playing for artists such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, and Johnny Mathis, I realized I knew the songs they were singing, and that she had taught them to me.
I am thrilled to be a part of the Great American Songbook Orchestra, bringing my favorite music to old and new fans, alike.”
We’re thrilled to have Stephanie in our GASO horn section, adding authenticity, virtuosity and joy!
Harry James Would Be Proud!
Another super busy southern Californian musician!
A graduate of California State University, Long Beach Jostein has worked with artists such as Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole, Bobby Vinton, Smokey Robinson, Jack Jones, Diahann Carroll to name but a few. He has dome extensive touring all over the USA and Europe, as well as conducted and played over 150 musicals.
He has also been very active in Music Education on a national level , inspiring young musicians of every age.
Why is he excited about being part of GASO?
“I am so honored to be part of the Great American Songbook Orchestra project! I have always been a fan of these songs, mainly because I love a good melody. And they sure knew how to make great melodies!”
And we’re honored to have Jostein Aarflot as part of our GASO Musical Family!
Jazz Cello? You Betcha!
Our first-chair cellist, Kyle Champion is one of the most sought-after musicians in southern California. Kyle has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, Long Beach Symphony, with Pacific Symphony and the Redlands Symphony Orchestras. Kyle is currently Artist Teacher of Cello at the University of Redlands and Director of their String Project. He teaches at the UR Community School of Music and the Arts, as well as at his home in La Verne.
Kyle completed his Master of Music degree in cello performance at the University of Southern California, where he was a student of Ronald Leonard, and his Bachelor of Music Education degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He has studied chamber music with Donald McInnes, members of the New Hungarian String Quartet and the contemporary music performers, Voices of Change. He plays on a modern cello made expressly for him by renowned luthier Christopher Dungey.
Why do I want to do the GASO?
Because this music is so "America"! I grew up with my dad playing so many musicals and "crooners" (esp. Nat King Cole) singing these great songs. Years playing in Orchestra Pops concerts with artists doing this music just helped get it into my blood. And road trips listening to Ella and Babs and Bette, and, and, and...
Some of the artists Kyle has performed with include Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis, Little Richard, Peter Cetera, Jimmy Webb, Steve Allen, Mel Torme, John Tesh, George Shearing, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, and many more.
We are thrilled to have Kyle Champion the the GASO string section!
Swingin' that Horn!
Lisa Cherry is one of the busiest horn players in southern California. She received her Bachelors of Music degree in Horn Performance from Cal State University, Long Beach. Classically trained, Ms. Cherry is a much sought after show player often performing with Long Beach Civic Light Opera, San Gabriel Light Opera, La Mirada Civic Light Opera, at the “Old Globe Theater” in San Diego, and La Jolla Playhouse. Her many symphony orchestras include Peninsula Symphony in the South Bay (since age 14!), South Coast Symphony (founding member), and Pacific Symphony. Ms. Cherry was in the “Hour of Power” orchestra from 2001-2010 at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, which was televised all over the world. She has toured with orchestras all over the world to Taiwan, Canada, México, Italy, Germany, Poland and Prague and Bulgaria summer of 2019.
An accomplished French horn teacher, Ms. Cherry has a home studio where she teaches both young players and adults alike. She has an extensive teaching background. In additional to her private studio students, Lisa has taught at top universities in Southern California including UCI, Concordia University, Vanguard University, Riverside Community College and California Baptist University and UC Riverside. In August of 2018 Lisa was invited to join the faculty as the Horn Professor at Orange County School of the Arts.
Lisa is a long time Orange County resident and lives in Lake Forest with her amazingly talented husband (also a member of GASO) woodwind specialist, John Reilly.
Visit Lisa on her own website!
Why is Lisa excited about performing with GASO?
“I look forward to playing these amazing songs and preserving them for new generations who haven’t been exposed to this kind of music before. It is really important…
I’ve played for and know many famous stars including Adina Menzel, Patti Lapone, Lea Solonga and Tony Bennett. Its always wonderful to share music from the American Songbook.”
And its wonderful to have Lisa in the GASO Horn Section!