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.

Daniel Green - String Bass

Originally from Portola Valley, California, Daniel’s earliest performance recollection is playing pizzicato cello (sort of like a string bass, at least proportionately) in a Kindergarten choir PTA Christmas show. Though "The Little Drummer Boy" had ended, little Daniel just kept plucking away - out there in that magical space of joy... totally overwhelmed by the instrument’s beautiful sound. As he developed on the string bass, Daniel thrived as a bass journeyman in the South Bay, Monterey and Carmel regions of California. He provided rhythm section support for competing jazz vocal ensembles at the high school and college level, where one stint with Soquel High Jazz Choir culminated with a performance at the 1990 Monterey Jazz Festival. Academic studies include jazz theory and performance with Randy Masters at UC Santa Cruz, jazz and orchestra with Ray Brown and Don Atkins at Cabrillo College, and private lessons with studio bass-ace Carol Kaye. Daniel has performed with numerous bands in the folk music idiom by playing jazz and big band for city folks, orchestra pieces for highbrow folks, and musicals, worship music, classic rock, blues, Brazilian (Caetana), Celtic (Isle of Light) and a smidgen of bluegrass for all other folks. Today, Daniel resides in Mariposa, California where he serves as principal double bassist with the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra. He originally joined the Yosemite Jazz Band in 2014 only to continue exploring his magical space of joy, sharing his beautiful string bass sounds for all folks to enjoy.

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