Band Members

Berl Howell - Trumpet / Band Leader

Berl is the energetic leader and founder of the Yosemite Jazz Band. Berl began playing traditional jazz in the California coastal community of Ventura where he performed with the Volunteer Dixieland Fire Brigade and The Untouchables Jazz Band. Soon after relocating to Bass Lake, Berl began performing with the Oakhurst Community Concert Band and formed the Yosemite Jazz Band. Today, Berl resides in Coarsegold where his enrichment of life continues through music, especially through traditional jazz. His extreme soulful playing and good-hearted enthusiasm is inspiring to both the band and the audience.
Teddy Strauss - Clarinet / Saxophone

Teddy co-founded the Yosemite Jazz Band with Berl and is perhaps most notable for his raspy singing voice and energetic playing style. Growing up in La Mirada, California, jazz came to Teddy from playing Count Basie tunes in his high school jazz band. As Southern California provided frequent performing opportunities, Teddy found himself playing in several bands and ensembles at Cerritos, La Palma and Saddleback Colleges, joining the Downey Symphony Orchestra, and performing in a pit band for a musical production of the Sound of Music with shows all over the LA area. Teddy eventually left Southern California for the more rural environment in Kernville, California and attend Bakersfield College only to join their bands. The California coastal redwoods drew him to Trinidad, California where he studied forestry at Humboldt State University, quickly learning that playing clarinet with the HSU Symphonic Band would keep him out from the rain. Upon graduation, a "day job" relocated him to Bakersfield where he joined the Bakersfield City Band for warm summer evening performances at the Greek Amphitheater in Beale Park. Teddy ultimately made Coarsegold his home only to meet Berl at an Oakhurst Community Concert Band rehearsal where discussions about forming a traditional jazz band commenced… and the rest is history!

Jimmy Kirin - Percussion
The "Drummer-Man" is a Yosemite Jazz Band founding father and charter member. Originally from Joliet, Illinois, Jimmy performed with numerous bands in his youth throughout the Chicago area. His love for traditional jazz once lead him to participated in the World's Largest Band at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee for listing in the "Guinness Book of World Records". Jimmy performs with the Oakhurst Community Concert Band where he can be seen in the back row pounding on a variety of percussion instruments. His Chicago-style rhythm is fundamental to the Yosemite Jazz Band's beat.
Pat Mierkey - Trombone
"Chops" began professional musical career at the ripe young age of 14 by playing trumpet and saxophone with a polka dance band in central Wisconsin. Pat later relocated to Arizona where in 1965 he became a music teacher after earning his Music Education degree. For 13 years he performed on the euphonium, trumpet and tuba with the Arizona 108th Army National Guard Band. Soon after moving to Oakhurst, he joined the Yosemite Jazz Band in 1996 by playing the tuba, but today performs on his trombone. Pat is an assistant conductor, principle trombonist, and Board member with the Oakhurst Community Concert Band. On his free time, Chops teaches music at Yosemite High School. If you ask, Chops will gladly play his hosaphone for you... but expect objections from the band.
Jeff Gurule - Banjo / Guitar
Jeff resides in North Fork, the exact center of California, where he can almost always be heard strummin' or pickin' a banjo. After gaining experience playing experimental finger style solo guitar, Jeff discovered the powerful feeling of playing music with others through drumming. It was just a matter of time before the drums and strings collided and coalesced into a banjo on his knee. Jeff’s enthusiasm for the banjo and music in general knows no bounds, as he's performed in numerous bands playing jazz, bluegrass, Brazilian, and African percussion. Jeff joined the Yosemite Jazz Band in the summer of 2001 to perform traditional jazz tunes on his plectrum banjo and tenor guitar. You may also find Jeff a pickin' and a grinnin' on his five-string banjo with a local bluegrass band, or perhaps while riding on the Sugarpine Railroad. Jeff is an inspired musician who can easily jam all night and greet a sunrise..with a banjo on his knee.
James Mierkey - Piano
James joined the Yosemite Jazz Band in 2002 as its piano player, lead vocalist, and official emcee. For those who thrive on trivia, "Chops" is James' father! James began playing music and singing early in his life as a result of his parents' dedication to music. He started out playing drums when he was six years old and soon thereafter began playing the piano. James has an extreme interest in all forms of jazz music, especially traditional jazz. His enthusiam in theater has segued toward directing and producing musicals and performing on stage at the Golden Chain Theater in Oakhurst, where he also serves on their Board of Directors. James has many talents, as he is involved with numerous musical projects by taking on the roles of musician, arranger, musical director, and recording engineer.

Jennifer Janine - Vocals

Jennifer joined the Yosemite Jazz Band in 2014 as our featured vocalist. She brings to the band many years of musical theater, singing and performing experience that gives a new dimension to our sound and a level of feminine charm and versatility that we have never had before. She performed on the stage in such shows as Fiddler on the Roof, Into the Woods, Godspell, and others. Jennifer is devoted to local theater in Oakhurst at the Golden Chain Theater by producing and directing musicals for performers of all ages. You will be delighted when you hear her sing a swinging standard or beautiful ballad with "the boys" backing her up.

David Quinday - String Bass

David is the Yosemite Jazz Band's newest member, joining the band in the Summer of 2015. David's musical career began at a very early age, inspired to become a musician after observing a string ensemble performance at his elementary school. This experience prompted him to became classically trained on Violoncello under the direction of late music educator Ellen Sanders. While attending high school, David's musical abilities grew by earning scholarships to the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp on bass and Sequoia Symphonic Orchestra Camp on cello, playing three consecutive years with the FMCMEA Youth Honors Orchestra, performing with the Raisin Babies Jazz Band on trombone under the direction of Dave Ruffner, and receiving the Bank of America Performing Arts Award. His love for Swing and Traditional Jazz took him to jazz festivals in California, Nevada, and Iowa. His most memorable performance with the Raisin Babies Jazz Band was at the Fritzel's European Jazz Pub on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. David now inspires the Yosemite Jazz Band with his rhythmic bass pulse.


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