The Chief Cherry Quintet+ performs music composed between the 1930’s through current originals written by the group’s members. They specialize in Black American Music stylings of swing, bebop, hard bop, fusion, avant-garde and Latin jazz forms. They perform hits by much of the American songbook tradition as well.
The Chief Cherry Quintet+ is lauded by the late Miles Davis’ younger brother, Joseph Haynes Davis as his favorite Central Florida jazz combo to listen to live.
The Chief Cherry Quintet's live performances pulse with energy. This group is equally at home blowing on cool standards or enjoying the open channels of free jazz. The band is fronted by two top-rate horn players, Shannon "Chief" Cherry on sax and vocals, and Steve Justice (Tower of Power) on trumpet. Both of these players deliver electrifying solos with a balance of showmanship and grace. Mike Telesmanick (Manhatten Transfer, Brian Setzer Orchestra) sets the stage with his well-known brand of colorful keyboard voicings, and Donald Keith Issitt (bass) and Brock Wollard (drums) groove with an intensity that brings audiences back again and again. You can hear these players individually up and down the East coast, but you will never regret setting aside an evening to hear them perform live together. If you like the sounds of the New York jazz scene, you will definitely enjoy the Chief Cherry Quintet.
---Jamie Younkin, PhD, Independent Music Critic
These are the current active members performing at Heidi’s Jazz Club:
Shannon “Chief” Cherry
Saxophonist & Vocalist
“Chief” Cherry has in the last couple of years performed at numerous venues in from the east coast of Florida on up through New York City, including Open Mike's, Heidi's Jazz Club, Smalls Jazz Club, Smoke Jazz & Supper Club and Cleopatra’s Needle (closed in 2019). Notable artists to have shared the stage with Chief or that he has recorded with are: Turk Mauro, Patience Higgins, Willerm Delisfort, John Henry “Jabo” Starks, Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Jeff Raines, Joe Ashlar, Simon Lott, Sam Williams, Roberta Flack, Peabo Bryson, Patti Austin, James Ingram, Junior Marvin, Mike “Big Daddy Weave” Weaver, David Pastorius and Gary Sinise.
Chief Cherry is currently endorsed by Phoenix Saxophones and Warburton Music Products.
Jevon Falcon, Trumpet
From the depths of Miami's 1980s Public Music Program comes Jevon... who ultimately attends FIU on a full jazz and classical scholarship.
Largely self taught in the mysteries of Jazz by studying the greats such as Miles Davis and Roy Hargrove, through Film, Sound and Word Jevon has crafted his sound into a dark professional medium...covering more than several genres and by now thousands of professional gigs, festivals, recordings...both international and domestic...
Although paused for more than a decade, Jevon picked back up in the Tampa Bay Region and from there has traveled the world to perform with Blues Acts, Reggae Rock Acts, Top 40 Bands and Multiple Self Directed acts as well.
Jon “Ox” Oxford, Guitar
Jon Oxford is a Florida native who has worked as a performer, composer, ensemble leader and educator for more than 20 years. He spent eight years (2003-2011) with the U.S. Army Band where he was stationed at Camp Zama, Sagamihara, Japan, and with the NATO Jazz Orchestra in Mons, Belgium.
While earning a Master of Music degree at the University of South Florida, Oxford studied composition under Chuck Owen, directed a variety of jazz ensembles, assisted in teaching jazz history and was a featured composer on the USF Jazz Studies performance tour in Germany.
Jon has performed across five continentsIn Europe, Jon wrote and performed with groups of varied sizes in the continent’s many festivals: Doudou Fest (Mons, Belgium); The Nice Jazz Festival (Nice, France); Wiggan Jazz Festival (Wiggan, England); Tabasalu and Tallin Jazz Festivals (Estonia); the A to JazZ Festival (Sophia, Bulgaria); the WORLD Jazz Festival (Riga,Latvia), amongst many others. He has led groups from the grand Château de Versailles in France to the tiny town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Germany Alps, and across the whole of Europe.
Locally, Jon maintains a regular performance schedule across the state performing with touring Broadway shows. He is also commissioned as a composer, arranger and copyist for numerous projects from musicals to chamber ensembles.
Mike “Tjazz” Telesmanick, Piano
Mike Telesmanick, known as “Tjazz” or “T” on the bandstand is a Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, CT. Mike has extensive touring and studio recordings with a long list of greats including:
Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Joe Sample, Wilfred Middlebrooks, Larry Gales, Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Ed Shaughnessy, Steve Vai, Steve Smith, Brian Setzer and Manhattan Transfer just to name some.
In the Mid 1990's Mike recorded his critically acclaimed album entitled: “Illumination” in Chick Corea's Madhatter Studios, in Los Angeles, CA. Mike also became Merv Griffin's favorite pianist at the late producer's Coconut Club in Beverly Hills, CA.
Thomas Milovac, Bass
A bassist, composer, arranger, and improviser working in the capacities of bandleader as well as a sideman, Thomas Milovac has been employed to perform on recording sessions, tours, musical theatre performances, and freelance gigging opportunities throughout the United States. He has performed with artists such as Vincent Gardner, Steve Swell, Chad Lefkowitz –Brown, Ronnie Burrage, Renee Baker, Jim Ivy, the Backdoor Stompers and Madre Vaca. Thomas also performed original pieces by artists such as Miguel Zenon, Wycliffe Gordon, and Dennis Mackrel with the artists and the University of North Florida’s Jazz Ensemble 1.
Thomas has fulfilled the role of bandleader in various personal projects. He was hired as an employee of the Orlando Jazz Workshop summer camp teaching music theory and small group performance in 2018 and 2019. He has lectured on improvisational techniques, methods, and performance.
Brian Menendez, Drums
Brian Menendez is a versatile percussionist, educator and performer. Well versed in American music. His primary instrument is the drum set. He graduated from University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2007, with a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance.
Brian toured with the Albert Castiglia Band from 2016-2019. He was the full time drummer for three and a half years. Performed an average of 175 shows a year touring extensively in the USA and two tours in Switzerland. Brian recorded on “Up All Night” 2017 Ruff Records. He toured with The Nouveaux Honkies from 2010-2015. Performed around 100 shows a year with The Neptunes, on Holland America Cruise Lines from 2009-2010.
Performed dance music in a jazz trio daily for 5 hours. Worked three contracts over a nine month period. Brian is renowned for his extensive study of the art forms and his remarkable ear.