6307 The Jazz Rhythm Section, Elements for Success

Learn more about each rhythm section instrument (piano, bass, guitar, drums) with hands-on instruction from a full set of professional musicians and educators. Learn the basics of how to play each rhythm section instrument and how to best use your rhythm section players individually, as a small group, and in a large ensemble. All participants will form combos and perform one or two pieces on the final day.

Instructors: Brian Logan, Tony Kidonakis, Stacey Williams-Jackson & Mike Pinto

12741922_970304306378435_1685450137588579549_nBrian Logan received a Bachelor of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and a Master of Educational Administration from Northeastern Illinois University.  He is a member of IMEA, NAfME, NBA, JEN, and is also an active adjudicator, clinician, guest conductor, and percussionist. Logan has been Director of Bands at Wheeling High School since 1990.  His responsibilities include directing the Wind Symphony, Jazz Band I, Jazz Combo, and Marching Band. Logan is also the Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator at Wheeling High School. Ensembles under Logan’s direction have performed at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic five times. The Wheeling High School Wind Symphony has performed at the University of Illinois SuperState Concert Band Festival fourteen times.  Wind Symphony will make their fourth appearance at the Music for All National Concert Band Festival in March 2016. Logan’s groups have been winners in Down Beat Magazine’s Annual Student Music Awards twelve times and earned Grand Champion at the prestigious Jazz in the Meadows and Northshore Jazz Festivals multiple times.  The Wheeling Jazz Band performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy) and the Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland) in 2009 and 2014.  In April 2010, the Jazz Band opened for Wynton Marsalis at the National School Board Association Conference, performing for over 7,000 attendees. The Wheeling Jazz Band has been selected as the Mark of Excellence National Winner four times in recent years, including 2015.  The Wheeling “Wildcat” Marching Band has earned numerous Grand Champion, First Place, and Caption Awards over the past two decades including four titles in 2015. Logan has presided over the Chicagoland Marching Band Festival, Illinois oldest Marching Band Field Show Competition, for 25 years. Logan’s work has been recognized by the United States Congress, Illinois State Senate, Quinlan and Fabish Music, Township High School District 214, East Maine School District 63, and Wheeling High School.  The National Band Association has awarded Logan fourteen “Citation of Excellence” awards.  He also received a Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Logan was selected as the SBO Magazine State Representative in their “50 Directors That Make a Difference” issue, and received the Mr. Holland’s Opus Award from Bob Rogers Travel. Logan is also the recipient of the VanderCook College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award and a contributing author in the upcoming GIA Publication, Jazz for Beginning Ensembles.

Kidonakis,_Tony_headshot_2013Tony Kidonakis joined the faculty of VanderCook in the Fall of 2009. He earned his bachelor of music education degree from Northern Illinois University, studying saxophone with distinguished research professor Steve Duke. Mr. Kidonakis performed and recorded with the NIU Wind Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Squires, and toured the United States and Europe with the world-renown NIU Jazz Ensemble, and  withlegends such as Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, Ed Thigpen, Frank Foster and Wynton Marsalis under the direction of Ronald Carter. Mr. Kidonakis maintains an active performance schedule with numerous local musicians and has worked with recording artists such as The Drifters, Gene "Duke of Earl" Chandler, and The Cryan Shames, including a guest appearance with The Redwalls on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He taught band for five years in Downers Grove Grade School District 58, and is the composer for the Paideia Projects, a series of video documentaries on the contributions of Ancient Greece to Western civilization. Mr. Kidonakis earned his master of music education from VanderCook College of Music in 2009, and a master of wind performance and literature degree from Northwestern University in 2012, studying saxophone with and serving as a teaching assistant for Dr. Frederick L. Hemke.


Mike Pinto is in demand as a guitarist, composer, and arranger in Chicago and internationally. He is at home in a multitude of styles, and his expressive approach is at once intellectual, technical, and soulful.  He works regularly with many groups and artists, including The Unknown New, the Paul Mutzabaugh Trio, Crawl, Auraphone (Mike’s own original eleven-piece ensemble), Mark Colby, the Renegades, the Tom Matta Big Band, the Bob Lark Alumni Big Band, the Becca Kaufman Orchestra, and the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen Band (Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage live). He is also a sideman for hire, working live and in the studio with various artists, recording sessions for commercial jingles, and playing at churches including Willow Creek. He also runs the website

In addition to performances at Chicago’s top venues (Jazz Showcase, Green Mill, Andy’s, Metro, Double Door, Schuba’s, Martyrs’), Mike has performed at major festivals and conferences in Italy, France, Germany, England, Malta, and Croatia. He plays on the recently released Joe Clark Big Band recording Lush, featuring legendary drummer Jeff Hamilton.  He has performed with Brazilian jazz artist Luciana Souza and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Jen Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), Joel Cummins and Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee), Peter Himmelman, and Regis Philbin.

Mike is also an active writer whose commissions include compositions and  arrangements for Mark Colby, the Rob Parton Jazztech Big Band, the Tom Matta Big Band, the Bob Lark Alumni Big Band, the City Lights Orchestra, the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, and Elmhurst College’s Jazz Band, Gretsch Electric Guitar Ensemble, and Percussion Ensemble. His piece “Spin Cycle,” for grade 2 big band, is published by Doug Beach Music.

Born into a musical family and raised in his parents’ music store, Mike has been playing guitar since age nine. He holds an undergraduate degree from Elmhurst College and a master’s degree from DePaul University. Currently, Mike is a member of the jazz faculty at Elmhurst College, where he teaches guitar, improvisation, arranging, and jazz history in addition to directing several ensembles (Lab Band, Gretsch Electric Guitar Ensemble, Electric Guitar Collective, and a jazz combo)


Stacey Williams-Jackson is now in her seventh year as Music Department Chair at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, IL. A suburban school of over three thousand students from five communities, she oversees four bands, four choirs, an orchestra (which she directs), two percussion ensembles, a guitar studio class (created and directed by her husband, 1997 Millikin Alum Nate Jackson), and fourteen other piano, music technology, guitar and music seminar classes.

Stacy’s program teams with extracurricular opportunities that include Lincoln-Way Central Marching Knights, the Lincoln-Way Madrigals, winter drum line and color guard, and an active jazz program, which she directs. Stacy taught and coordinated Lincoln-Way Youth Strings and was the District I jazz representative for the Illinois Music Educators Association until 2006.

Feeling adamantly that musical opportunities should be offered to everyone, Stacy developed Individualized Music in 2001 for students with developmental disabilities. When not at Lincoln-Way, Stacy enjoys life with her husband Nate and their sons Perry (named after MU music professor Perry Rask) and Béla—and can sometimes still be seen sitting in with the Decatur Big Band from time to time.

Jackson loves being an advocate for her department and an inspiring force for her students. One of the biggest compliments she receives comes from students who decide to become music educators and attend Millikin for their degree. “So much of education is simply giving back to the world all that you received from those who inspired you. It will be my life’s work to give back all I received at Millikin, and I know I will enjoy the journey that goal will insure.”



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Course Information

6307 The Jazz Rhythm Section: Elements for Success
Dates: June 26-30
Graduate Credits: 3
Tuition: $990, due in full with registration
Location: VCM - Room TBD
Hours: Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Register online by Friday, April 14, and save $50 per class!
Register online by Friday, May 19, and save $25 per class!
Only registrations received and paid in full by 12:00 noon CDT on the dates above (April 10 for $50, May 15 for $25)  are eligible for the discounts. Balances paid after initial registration do not qualify.

VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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