Our History & Personnel


Since its formation in 1980, the 16-piece Dean Pratt Big Band has featured the best musicians New York has to offer; many are former sidemen of the Harry James, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Gerry Mulligan, and Buddy Rich bands, and are currently featured on Broadway and in the New York studios. The DPBB has backed such artists as Fran Warren, Zoot Sims, Al Grey, and Roy Eldridge; performed a tribute to arranger Fletcher Henderson; and been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. No other big band performing today captures so authentically the spirit and intensity that made the best bands of the Swing Era so compelling, and no band possesses such a remarkably deep and diverse book, including charts by such classic big band arrangers as Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmy Mundy, Neal Hefti, and Ernie Wilkins, as well as more progressive arrangers such as Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Holman, Thad Jones, Francy Boland, Don Piestrup, and Mike Abene—music to dance to, as well as music to study. The DPBB was the first jazz group to be invited to participate in the summer concert series at the Washington Square Park Musical Festival, where they presented, for several years, the history-in-music of many jazz composers and arrangers.


Dean Pratt (Leader), born in Rochester, New York, began playing trumpet at age six, studied privately with Daniel Patrylak at the Eastman School of Music, and then attended North Texas State University in Denton, performing and recording with the One O’Clock Lab Band, then directed by Leon Breeden. While at North Texas, he performed with Tex Beneke and Warren Covington, and toured with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Pratt appeared with his own jazz quintet on the All American College TV Show, hosted by Dennis James, and with Barry Miles on the PBS Special, “Fusion Suite.” Pratt toured with Woody Herman, performed and recorded with the jazz/rock group Ten Wheel Drive, helped organize, as well as perform and record with Bill Watrous’s band, Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, toured internationally with the Bee Gees and, for several years, with Buddy Rich, with whom he appeared on numerous television shows. Among the recordings he appeared on with Rich are: Plays and Plays/No Jive/Battle of the Bands with Woody Herman (RCA); Wham!, The Buddy Rich Big Band “Live”; Class of 78/Big Band Jazz/Best Band I Ever Had (Gryphon/Hindsight); Together Again for the First Time/When I Found You, with Mel Torme (Gryphon/Hindsight); Killing Me Forcefully, Live in Poland (PolJazz); and Europe 77 (Magic); and Buddy Rich Time Out. Prattt has appeared widely with Joanie Sommers, Ben Vereen, Sergio Franchi, Rita Moreno, Bobby Rydell, Vic Damone, Sammy Davis, Jr., Andy Williams, Steve Lawrence and Edy Gorme, and Tony Bennett; played on Broadway and with the big bands of George Russell, Mel Lewis, Toshiko Akyoshi, and Gil Evans; played lead trumpet with Frank Sinatra, Jr.; and occupied the lead trumpet chair with Clifford Jordan’s Big Band, recording CDs with them as well as touring Japan and playing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. John Wilson, Music Critic for The New York Times, recognized Dean as an “electrifying member of the Woody Herman and Buddy Rich bands.” The Dean Pratt Big Band has recorded two CDs: Groovy Encounters and 16 Men & A Chick Singer Swingin’, with vocalist Roberta Gamabarini.

Andy Watson (Drums) has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene for over two decades. Watson was beating out rhythms on furniture as an infant before he started playing the drum kit at age four. “I remember digging it,” he says. By the following year he was taking lessons, and at seven he was playing in a kids’ band. “Drums were fantastic,” he says. “They made me feel like I was home.” Watson has performed and recorded with an impressive list of artists and groups, including: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Frisell, Benny Golson, Jim Hall, Tom Harrell, Jon Hendricks, Woody Herman, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, Marian McPartland, James Moody, Marvin Stamm, Mike Stern, Lew Tabackin and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. As a member of Jim Hall’s trio, Andy played on the critically acclaimed recording, Dialogues. All About Jazz magazine called his performance on David Bixler’s “Call It A Good Deal” “one of the top ten for 2006.” Other notable recordings include Jon Hendricks’ Boppin’ at the Blue Note, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s  Hiroshima: Rising from the Abyss, Jim Hall’s Downbeat Critic’s Choice, The Westchester Jazz Orchestra’s Maiden Voyage Suite, and the Telarc compilations Jazz: Live from New York, and Triple Play: Live From the Blue Note. Watson has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and South America, appearing at many of the major festivals: Monterey Jazz Festival, Ravinia, JVC New York, Playboy Jazz Fest, JVC Saratoga, Zurich Jazz Festival, and the Vienna Jazz Festival.

Chip Jackson (Bass)

Cecilia Coleman (Piano), a native of Long Beach, California and resident of New York City, pianist, composer and bandleader, began to play piano at age five and, at age 15, to study jazz piano. From 1981 to 1986, she studied jazz piano with well-known vibraphonist and teacher, Charlie Shoemake, as well as undertaking classical studies with Dr. Allan Giles. She is a potent pianist capable of performances that are both exciting and moving, and has developed into an exceptional composer whose distinctive, varied pieces reflect where jazz has been and where it is going. Coleman has led her own group since 1990, when she formed a trio with bassist Eric Von Essen and drummer Kendall Kay. In 1993, her quintet was formed. Coleman has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Telluride Jazz Festival and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop with the quintet. She is currently the jazz piano instructor at her alma mater, CSU Long Beach, where she teaches every other week during the school year. On the east coast, she is the accompanist for the Modern Dance Center of Westchester in Bronxville. Coleman has eight CDs out as a leader: Pearl, Illusion, Images, The Impostor, Higher Standards, Home, Young & Foolish, and Words of Wisdom. She also appears on three recordings of The American Jazz Institute, headed by Mark Masters, which feature Lee Konitz, Billy Harper, Jack Montrose, Ray Drummond, Tim Hagans, and Gary Smulyan, plus many more. In 2010, the Cecilia Coleman Big Band was formed. The band may be heard performing at local NYC venues such as Fat Cat, The Garage, and Zinc Bar.

Bob Porcelli (Lead Alto)

Vito Chiavuzzo (Second Alto), originally from New Jersey,  began playing the saxophone at age nine with the encouragement and support of his musical family. He went on to receive a BA in Jazz Studies & Performance from William Paterson University and an MA from the Manhattan School of Music. Chiavuzzo has performed in such venues as the Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, B.B. King’s, the Apollo Theater, Smoke Jazz and Supper Club, The Jazz Standard, Smalls, as well as the Monterey and Rochester Jazz Festivals and festivals in Ireland, Austria, Portugal, and Germany. He has had the good fortune to play with a wide variety of artists including Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Annie Lenox, Lenny Kravitz, the Fins Blues Band, and the Mambo Legends Orchestra (formerly the Tito Puente Orchestra). He has also played alongside many jazz luminaries including Slide Hampton, Donny McCaslin, John Riley, Steve Wilson, James Williams, Maria Schneider, Christian McBride, Michael Mossman, Joe Magnarelli, Jim Rotondi, Dave Stryker, Jon Gordon, Frank Wess, Bob Mintzer, Rufus Reid, James Spaulding, Steve LaSpina, as well as with the Smoke Big Band led by Bill Mobley, the American Jazz Repertory Orchestra led by Clem DeRosa and numerous other big bands. While attending the Henry Mancini Institute, Chiavuzzo participated in a Grammy-nominated recording featuring clarinet virtuoso Eddie Daniels and saxophonist Tom Scott. He has also recorded with hip-hop artist, Redman, gospel artist David Bratton and the Spirit of Praise, singer/songwriter Natalie Riccio, NY’s premier hip hop soul band, C Phineas, the Mambo Legends Orchestra, and with Aretha Franklin for an HBO special commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. Influenced by a wide range of musicians, from Charlie Parker to James Taylor, Chiavuzzo is gaining wider recognition as a versatile musician with a strong personal voice.

Danny Walsh (First Tenor) is a New-York-based saxophonist who has recorded with Lenny White, Donald Brown, Joe Locke, and many other musicians around the world. A world-class saxophonist, composer, and performer, Walsh is regarded as one of the most gifted and versatile recording artists in the jazz and R&B circuits. Oveer the course of his career, he has not only recorded, performed, and toured with many jazz, R&B and classic rock luminaries, but continues to be involved as a clinician at colleges and universities throughout the nation. Upon graduation from The Berklee School of Music, Walsh was immediately hired by Aerosmith. Soon after, he secured more opportunities with the Mingus Dynasty Big Band, Mike Stern, Greg Allman, Phil Woods, Mulgrew Miller, Marcus Miller, Bruce Springsteen, Donald Brown, Terruo Nakamura ,and many others. He has several of his own CDs, including D’s Mood, on the Steeplechase label.

Jason Marshall (Baritone Sax) arrived in New York City in 2003 to continue and foster hard-swinging, forward-thinking baritone saxophone playing.  Encouraged early in life to appreciate all types of music, Marshall developed a unique style that draws on a wide range of African-American music: an amalgamation of soul, R & B,  Funk, and straight-ahead jazz.  Years of dedication and perseverance have resulted in Marshall’s giant, soulful sound and instantly appealing concept. He names such stellar influences as Leo Parker, Nick Brignola and Bruce Johnstone, and his approach to the instrument clearly states: “I will take -no-prisoners.” Marshall has studied with many of the elite baritone saxophone specialists of the 20th century, including Hamiett Bluiett, Ronnie Cuber, and Gary Smulyan. Other influences on Marshall were altoists Bruce Williams, Mark Gross, Steve Wilson, Vincent Herring, and tenor players Greg Tardy, Wayne Escoffrey, and Paul Carr. Lorenz Wheatley merits the special distinction of being Marshall’s first saxophone teacher and earliest source of musical direction. Marshall’s formative musical experiences include stints with the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra, and Bluesman Roy Gaines. He is currently playing and touring with Roy Hargrove’s band, RH Factor, and the Roy Hargrove Big Band. Marshall’s own band, Overt Negritude, has released a debut, self-titled album.

Bob Millikan (First Trumpet) began playing the cornet at age six, and joining the Indianapolis Symphonic Band at age twelve. After high school, Millikan toured with The Warren Covington Band, then moved permanently to New York, where he studied with Clyde Reseinger, Murray Karpaloski, Carmine Caruso, and Harold Lieberman; and arranging with Frank Fields. By age 18, he was working with numerous big bands; doing television shows, studio work, Broadway shows, nightclubs (the Copa, Latin Quarter, and Empire Room); and playing lead trumpet for such performers as Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstein, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, and Dianna Ross. He was a member of the renowned American Jazz Orchestra, with John Lewis conducting, performing with many of the jazz greats, and may be heard on The American Jazz Orchestra recordings: Ellington Masterpieces, The Music of Jimmy Lunceford, and Benny Carter/City Sketches. Millikan has toured Europe, Japan, South America, and Russia, playing the major jazz festivals and recording with: Bob Mintzer (Old School New Lessons, Incredible Journey, Departure, Bob Mintzer Big Band Live At MCG, Homage to Count Basie); David Berger and The Sultans of Swing (Hindustan, Marlowe, Doin’ The Do, The Harlem Nutcracker Suite); the legendary drummer Louie Belson (Eastside Suite, Classics in  Jazz, Hot, Air Mail Special, Black, Brown & Beige); and Dave Mathews and The Manhattan Jazz Orchestra (Some Skunk Funk). He has done concerts and TV shows with Quincy Jones in Paris (L’Orchestra National), LA (Los Angeles Philharmonic) and New York, including appearances on The David Letterman Show. He played lead on “Duke Ellington’s Harlem Nutcracker Suite” for the opening of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and at BAM, and performed with Paquito D’Rivera at the New York Jazz Festival, recreating his part of the Grammy Award winner “Portraits of Cuba.” Millikan may be heard on hundreds of other recordings with such artists as Tony Bennett, Jimmy Heath, Chick Corea, Buddy Rich, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme, DMP Big Band, George Gruntz, Dave Stryker, Grover Washington, Hank Crawford, Gill Evans, Lyle Mays, Barbara Cook, Steve Tyrell, Joe Roccisano, and Tom Chapin. Some recently released recordings featuring his work include: Knights of Fantasy/Night Cruiser, Deodato; New Horizons, Vol. 2, Stan Kenton; R.S.V.P., Nancy Wilson, Helen Merrill, and Tori Amos. Millikan played the “Kennedy Center Honors” annually for ten years, plus numerous other TV specials:  “The Tony Awards,” “The Grammy Awards,” “The Essence Awards,” “The Muppets’ Christmas,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “The Wizard of Oz/Avery Fischer Hall,” among them. He played lead trumpet on Barbra Streisand’s first European tour and was the lead trumpet on her 2006 tour (CD: Streisand Live In Concert 2006). A tour of the Midwest with the Bob Mintzer Big Band culminated in the live recording, Old School, New Lessons. He toured the Midwest a month later with The Dave Liebman Big Band, resulting in the CD, Live as Always. In a review of Dream, Bill Spilka says, “I must commend Bob Millikan for his stunning chorus on ‘Laura.’  After you hear it, you realize that his rich, full trumpet tone is the sound of the whole big band that you’ve been listening to all through the show.”

Jeff Wilfore (Second Trumpet) began playing the trumpet in high school. After graduating from Ithaca College, he went on the road with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, leaving the band to attend the Eastman School of Music, where he earned an MA in Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media. After graduation, Wilfore decided to do some more traveling, this time on a globe-circling cruise ship as Musical Director. In 2002, and 120 countries later, he moved to New York. Since 2003, Wilfore has been a regular sub on many Broadway shows, including “Hairspray,” “A Chorus Line,” “Gypsy,” “Curtains,” “In The Heights,” and “The Little Mermaid.” After taking his first audition since his college ensemble days, he recently earned a spot in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Orchestra. He has also played on numerous national tours, including “West Side Story,” and “Chicago.” Wilfore has a special appreciation for Big Band music. In addition to more than four years on the road with the GMO playing all four trumpet chairs, he has played with the Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, and Gene Krupa orchestras, and still performs regularly with the Harry James Orchestra and both the Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey orchestras. Since moving to NYC, he has been a regular with numerous rehearsal bands, and does many concerts with young composers who write specifically for large jazz ensemble, and who are taking the art form to new levels of creativity. Wilfore was a full-time member of the pit orchestra for the Broadway revival of “West Side Story.” When not playing on Broadway, he may be found playing in a variety of settings, including jingles, record dates, jazz and Big Band hits, wedding ceremonies, and all types of concerts, from orchestral concerts and operas, to Rock and R&B gigs.

Bud Burridge (Third Trumpet)

Alan Quinn (Fourth Trumpet) was less than five years old when he started playing the piano; he took up the trumpet in high school. Quinn formed the Alan Quinn Orchestra when he was 18 as a way to showcase his talents on both instruments. When not working with the band, he stays busy as a freelance piano player, trumpet player, and church organist. Quinn’s solo career includes performances with such noted pop acts as: the Broadway show “Beatlemania”; Disco Divas, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, and Dionne Warwick; Burt Bacharach; Motown legends, The Four Tops & The Temptations; the Big Apple Circus (from 2004); Connie Francis; Lou Christie; The New York Voices; Jake (Raging Bull) LaMotta; The Golden Boys of Bandstand (Frankie Avalon, Fabian & Bobby Rydell); The Coasters; Little Anthony & The Imperials; The Regents; The Happenings; Gene Chandler; The Jimmy Dorsey Big Band; Don Cornell; Marshall Crenshaw . . . and jazz notables such as Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Faddis, Michael Brecker, The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Heath, Bob Brookmeyer, and many more. Quinn has also been featured at a New York Mets game playing “The Star Spangled Banner” on trumpet.

Charley Gordon (Lead Trombone), born and brought up in the Big Apple, has toured with Blood, Sweat & Tears, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s Jazz Orchestra, and Maria Schneider’s Orchestra. Due to his very busy career on Broadway, Gordon has played in a wide variety of musical settings ranging from Pop (Stevie Wonder, Joe Jackson, Shakira, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Hudson) to Jazz (Gil Evans Orchestra, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Mingus Jazz Orchestra, and Andrew Hill ‘s Big Band). Gordon is, as well, an active member of the Ed Palermo “Zappa” Big Band, Howard William’s Big Band, and Dave Chamberlain’s Band of Bones.

Clint Sharman (Second Trombone) began his professional career in Pennsylvania playing with many orchestras and bands in the Harrisburg and Reading areas, and served as principal trombone with the Harrisburg (PA) Symphony for three years. After moving to New York City, Clint joined The Bee Gees, and was later joined a soloist with the Buddy Rich Big Band. He has performed, toured. or recorded with Louis Bellson’s Big Band, and such stars as Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Sammy Davis, Jr., Charles Aznavour, Michael Jackson, Natalie Cole, the Motown hit machine The Funk Brothers, and many others. His career has extended from New York to Philadelphia and Atlantic City, and he has toured over 30 countries. Sharman has also worked on many Broadway shows including “Chess,” “Bells Are Ringing,” “Miss Saigon,” “Fosse,” “The Boy From Oz,” “Chicago,” “The Apple Tree,” “Wicked,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” and “Come Fly Away.” He also appeared on the Tony Awards show, “One Night Only,” with Hugh Jackman. As a recording artist, he has played on countless albums, CDs, and radio and TV jingles.

David Chamberlain (Bass Trombone) grew up in Buffalo, New York, and began playing the trombone at age ten; the flute at age 15. He studied at Mannes College, New York (earning a BS in Flute) and SUNY Purchase (receiving his MA in Trombone). Chamberlain’s performance credits include Jaki Byard’s Apollo Stompers, The Toasters, Rafael Cortigo, Mon Rivera, Tito Puente, Tambo, Cruz Control, Wayne Gorbea, The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra, The Lebron Brothers, Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick, Rita Moreno, Kenny Rogers, and many more. He toured with the national company of “Cats,” and has subbed on a dozen Broadway shows. Chamberlain leads and has recorded with three groups of his own: the Hora Decima Brass Ensemble, The Traditional Afro-Cuban Band, Direct Latin Influence, and The Band of Bones. From 2003-2009, he was the Latin band leader at the prestigious Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. Chamberlain plays both tenor and bass trombone, as well as euphonium, tuba, bass trumpet, and flute.