Since the summer of 1999 alto saxophonist James Merenda has led this energetic project devoted to the music of bassist/composer Charles Mingus. The Masked Marvels features a core of accomplished and enthusiastic musicians who are not shy about launching into the Mingus repertoire and putting their own stamp on the challenging compositions. Whether playing "Fable of Faubus," "O.P.," or Duke's Choice," the Masked Marvels take the listener on a wild, unpredictable and exhilarating ride each time through and bring to life the spirit and substance of the work of Charles Mingus.

The Masked Marvels have performed at The Hatch Memorial Shell as part of the Boston Phoenix Jazz and Art Festival, Ryles Jazz Club, The Acton Jazz Café, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and regularly at the Chopping Block, Costello's and Matt Murphy's Pub.

 

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Core Members


James Merenda — Alto Sax

A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, James is a music educator in Brookline and Jamaica Plain. Around Boston James has played with the Either Orchestra, The Ardvark Orchestra, John McNeil and the Mingus Three and around the world in Spain, France and Holland.  James is on the faculty of Northeastern University and the Brookline Music School.

Jeff Galindo — Trombone

Born in San Francisco and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music where he studied jazz improvisation with Hal Crook, Jeff Bergonzi and George Garzone. He has toured with Phil Woods, the Artie Shaw Orchestra and with Makoto Ozone. He has also performed with such legends as Clark Terry, Joe Lovano, Slide Hampton, Ray Charles and Gunther Schuller. Jeff is an Assistant Professor at the Berklee College of Music teaching trombone and jazz improvisation, he also teaches privately.

Doug Olson — Trumpet

Jef Charland — Bass

A native of Gardner MA., Jef’s first instrument was trumpet. Later he studied guitar at Berklee with Jon Damian and played in the house band at Wally’s in Boston. After graduating from Berklee he picked up the bass and has become a fixture on the jazz scene playing regularly with the Masked Marvels, the Andy Voelker Trio, Gypsy Schaeffer and at jazz jams at the Center for Arts in Natick, Costello’s and Matt Murphy’s Pub.

Mike Connors — Drums

Known extensively throughout New England as one of the most talented drummers on the scene, Mike has also done two national Broadway tours in addition to touring Europe with Combustible Edison. He also plays with Sonic Explorers.

Vanessa Morris — Vocals

A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, Vanessa studied with Ran Blake (www.ranblake.com), Dominique Eade and John McNeil. Her unique vocal style is a blend of many influences ranging from Billie Holiday and Betty Carter to Ornette Coleman and Joao Gilberto. Vanessa teaches piano at Brookline Music School, and voice at the New England Conservatory Division of Preparatory and Continuing Education. She also performs blues, field songs and spirituals with guitarist Scott Sandvik in the Morris/Sandvik Duo (www.scottsandvik.com/html/performer/morris_sandvik.html)

John Funkhouser — Bass/Piano

Educator, author, leader of the John Funkhouser Trio and a pianist, John teaches ear training at Berklee College of Music. He can be found with the Masked Marvels, The Aardvark Orchestra, the Dave Scott Trio, Pierre Hurel Trio and the Molly Flannery Group

Andy Voelker — Alto and Soprano Sax

You can see Andy with the Masked Marvels just about every Sunday at Costello’s. He composes and performs with the quartet Gypsy Schaeffer (www.gypsyschaeffer.com) and leads the AV Trio (featuring his original works) at Ryles Jazz Club, Matt Murphy’s Pub and the Cambridge Brewing Company, to name a few jazz spots. Andy studied at the Berklee College of Music with George Garzone, Frank Tiberi and Frank Wilkins.

Luther Gray — Drums (no photo)

Originally from Washington D.C., Luther’s been a fixture on the Boston jazz scene for a few years now, he can be found playing regularly with Joe Morris, The Masked Marvels and many others.

Mark Berney — Trumpet

Originally from the Columbia River region of Oregon, Mark has extensive performance experience playing in a wide variety of musical settings including appearances with the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Itzhak Perlman, the Skatalites and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

 

 
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