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The Los Alamos Arts Council’s free Brown Bag Performance Series will feature Black Mesa Brass at noon March 6. in the Pajarito Room at Fuller Lodge.
The Black Mesa Brass Quintet was formed in 1990 and still has three of the original five members. Their repertoire is a mix of classical, modern, pop and jazz tunes. They play a variety of venues including concerts, educational performances at schools, weddings and other special occasions. Jan McDonald, John Hargreaves, Jerry Morzinski, Larry Bronisz and Bruce Letellier make up the quintet. Their collective musical experience is on the order of 240 years.
McDonald received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and pursued graduate studies at Indiana State University and Boston University. He is the musical director of the Los Alamos Big Band, founder of the Black Mesa Jazz Quintet, and directed the Los Alamos High School band for almost 30 years. He is the recipient of the Outstanding Secondary Educator Award and the Outstanding New Mexico Jazz Educator Award. He performs with many professional groups, frequently as a soloist, including the Southwest Jazz Orchestra, Pro Musica Orchestra and the Santa Fe Symphony.
Hargreaves has played horn for about 50 years. He studied music at the University of Colorado graduating with a bachelor’s degree in performance and later taught there as an instructor of music. These days, he works as a mechanical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Besides performing with the Black Mesa Brass, he also has performed with the Denver Brass, the San Juan Symphony and Concordia Santa Fe.
Morzinski performs regularly on tuba and trombone with the Los Alamos Big Band, Santa Fe Great Big Jazz Band, Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra, Concordia Santa Fe and Santa Fe Community Orchestra. He is choir director at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, where he also organizes brass ensembles and arranges music for special occasions.
Bronisz started his musical studies in the Los Alamos schools on cello. He picked up the trombone in fourth grade and started taking lessons from McDonald in sixth grade. Forty-two years later, he is still playing with McDonald in the BMBQ and LA Big Band. He enjoys classical and jazz genres and has started playing cello again in the last few years.
Letellier has played the trumpet as an amateur and semiprofessional musician for almost 40 years. He is an avid volunteer with the high school drama department and performs regularly with numerous ensembles including the Los Alamos Big Band, Los Alamos Community Winds, Light Opera and the Santa Fe Community Orchestra.