All About the Thornapple Jazz Orchestra 

The Thornapple Jazz Orchestra (TJO) was established in 1987 and was originally called Les Jazz. It began as a group of community members with an interest in performing music rooted in the Big Band Jazz genre.  Over the years they have added members to include regional instrumentalists as well.

TJO performs a vast repertoire of literature including vintage big band music as well as music for the contemporary big band.  This full compliment ensemble of five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, piano, bass, drums, and singer, can be heard on any given performance performing arrangements from the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, and the list goes on.

Members of the group include:  Spencer White, Craig Holley, Judy Martin, Joan Schroeder, Carol Svihl, Jeff Kaczmarczyk, Dave Smith, Terry Zylman, and Jerry Mueller on Sax; Doug Acker, Mike Smith, Dale Latva, and Bob Rice on Trumpet; Steve Hoke, Lynn McConnell, Jeff Buehl, Don Myers, Ray Rickert, Craig Schroeder on Trombone; Mark Ramsey on Piano, Don Cheeseman, Kyle Wellfare and Dave Devos on Bass; Bob Ruthven and Dennis Downing on drums.

TJO has performed in New Orleans, Memphis, Indianapolis and New York as well as gigs at the local Walldorff Brewpub, feature concerts at the new Thornapple Plaza, as guests with the City Band or High School jazz concerts, and for annual community events.  As founding members of The Thornapple Jazz Festival Committee, which features over 130 performing groups during the month of April, TJO enjoys educating and growing a love for jazz.

Director and founder Joe LaJoye, is a sought after clinician in the jazz world. Retired as a high school band director, he continues to perform and teach, encouraging love and mastery of the jazz artform.

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