Meet the Band Our great musicians

Capitol City Xpress was founded in 2006 as a group to keep the music alive. We all love Big Band music from the tunes of the 1930’s to the modern charts of today. Members of Capitol City Xpress are from the greater Atlanta / north Georgia area, and have many diverse interests and backgrounds.  Our band members work day jobs in sales, marketing, information technology, retirees, business owners, and even have a few professional musicians.  As diverse as our backgrounds, we have one thing in common…  playing great music!  Take a few minutes to meet the band.

Leland McKeithan
Vocals

Leland McKeithan grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, where she studied musical theater, acting, voice, and dance. She attended Boston University School of Fine Arts for professional acting training, earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and later studied music and voice at Hunter College. While living in New York City, Leland performed regularly at cabaret venues and piano bars, and was a proud member of the 150 person New York Metro Mass Choir.

Leland moved to Atlanta in 2006 and became a soloist with Unity North Church of Atlanta Choir and the Showtime Singers of Atlanta Ensemble. Currently she sings with her jazz combo The Standards Project and enjoys salsa dancing around Atlanta. Leland loves to perform show-tunes, standards, jazz, gospel and anything with soul! She is the Program Director of the Performing Arts Exchange for South Arts, the regional arts council of the South.

Dan Thornton
Vocals

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Dan grew up in a family of vocal performers.   By age 14 Dan’s voice was able to sing bass in his family’s quartet.  He has sung with the Tampa Bay Oratorio as well as with many ensembles and praise teams over many years.

From 1989 to 2001, he sang with a traveling gospel quartet called “Freedom”. He enjoys singing different styles of music.  Even Freedom sang several songs in the 50’s and big band style with rewritten lyrics.  He has always loved big band crooning songs and is happy for the opportunity to stretch his range by singing jazz and swing music with the band.  Dan and his wife still sing Christian duets together whenever the opportunity arises.

David Peoples
Staff Arranger

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David got his start in jazz writing for and traveling with big bands where he performed as pianist. As an active composer, David Peoples has filled many commissions and premiered his music throughout the world. He has had many opportunities to write music for some great bands like the Jazz Surge, Southern Comfort, Riverside All-Star Big Band, and many other college bands throughout the USA. He has written originals and arrangements for many soloists such as Michael Brecker, David Sanchez, Gary Foster, Rufus Reid, Roy McCurdy, Antonio Hart, Kerry Turner, Chris Vadala, Mike Fahn, Jon Meyer, Vincent DiMartino, Lori Andrews, and Bart Samolis. Assisting with the production of several albums, he co-produced the critically acclaimed ‘Out of the Bluffs’ big band album. As a musician, David is versed in many music languages and regularly composes for orchestras and chamber groups as well. His music is published by Bluesilhouettes Music and UNC Jazz Press with distribution by J. W. Pepper.

David was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, but enjoys living in Atlanta with his wife (a concert pianist) and their 4 children. He especially enjoys cold ginger ales on warm summer afternoons out on his balcony surrounded by pine trees, birds, and butterflies (the workshop where he composes). To hear more of David’s big band music, please visit his jazz sound cloud:https://soundcloud.com/peoplescomposer/tracks.

Rhythm Section

Charles “Buzz” Alford
Guitar

Buzz plays guitar in the Rhythm section. He has been playing the guitar since he was a teenager but only got serious when he became an adult. His early ensemble experience was playing in a couple of bluegrass bands until he had the opportunity to play with Atlanta’s Little Big Band back in the 1980’s.

In the early 1990’s Buzz joined The Take Note Big Band and played with Take  Note until the band broke up in 2006. He is one of the founders of The Capitol City Xpress and current business manager.

 

 

Tim Maguire
Bass

Tim is a self taught musician.  At an early age he was exposed to many kinds of music and influenced by his father who sang and played piano.  But it was Rock and Roll (or maybe the girls) that inspired him to pick up the bass guitar and join in a band.  Tim is a newcomer to Jazz but wanting to continue and grow as a musician he joined in to learn the Big Band Music which had always loved to hear since he was a young boy.

Tim has become versatile in many styles of music and logged hours upon hours in the recording studio working on various original music projects.  He has been laying down the foundation for local recording artists Liberty Jones for 10 years.  Tim also can be heard in Shades of Gray, St. Lawrence or maybe just sitting in with friends at your local pub.

 

Denise Martin
Drums

Denise grew up in California. She’s been playing the drums since she was 10 years old. She studied privately all through high school and on into college. Denise received her music degree at Piedmont College in Athens, GA in 2003. Denise has always loved jazz, and thinks she was born in the wrong decade.

 

Paul Pisarchuk
Piano

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So, a bio, huh?  I could talk about the bands I’ve been in, the degrees I have, my education, but that would be boring.  What you will get is that I didn’t attend a music school (rather, GA Tech/BS in ICS) but I have been around music all my life.  From piano lessons as a kid to being involved in my kids’ music lessons, to being worship director at my church for a number of years and more ensembles than I will name here. And from time to time, still take jazz piano lessons. I was, believe it or not, a charter member of CCX back in the day where I played lead trombone; had to drop out for a while and came back to be part of the rhythm section, on keys.  I’ve dabbled with harmonica, play a little bass guitar, and of course trombone and piano, but my passion is a Hammond C3/B3.

Saxophone Section

Jeff Knain
Alto/Tenor Saxophone

Growing up in a family of musicians, Jeff picked up the Saxophone at age 10 and started teaching himself. In the early years, Jeff played in high school, state and county honor bands, as well as college concert and jazz bands. Through the years he had the opportunity to play in various rock bands, jazz big bands, as well as jazz combos, spending much of that time working Mardi Gras balls. Jeff also played in church bands, community bands and theater orchestras.

 

Paul Platto
Alto Saxophone

Fresh from his 3-year stint on Ecuadorian Buslines with Freddy Beltone and the Pacemakers, Paul is now free to engage in his latest passion – Country Ska on the accordian.  Widely acclaimed for his avante garde approach to neo-Euclidian tonal studies, and renowned for his discovery of the H-minor 7th augmented 12th (concert) during one particularly introspective ad-lib solo, provides the perfect credentials for being the director of CCX.

No comment“, reports Downbeat Magazine.

Steve Weikle
Tenor Saxophone

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Steve is a great tenor saxophone player.

Ron Wincek
Bari Saxophone

Ron Wincek started his musical career on clarinet but fell in love with the baritone sax sound while playing it in his high school jazz band. Music followed him to college where he played clarinet with the concert band and was a member of the Florida State Marching Chiefs. It also influenced his decision to move to Atlanta after graduating to play alto saxophone in a Contemporary Christian Rock group called Ransom (despite parental pressures on getting a real job). After two years Ron stopped playing to complete two graduate degrees, marry wife v1.0 (pronounced version one oh), get real job v1.0, have child v1.0, get job v2.0, have child v2.0, start company v1.0, have more 0’s, and finally start company v2.0. After a 12 year hiatus Ron returned to music upon the insistence of his wife because “playing golf four times a year is not a hobby”. With limited time and resources he felt he needed to choose whether to age gracefully as an clarinet player or a saxophone player. The decision was made to take up the saxophone after noting the difference in sound quality between the girls’ screams when playing high “E’s”, “F’s”, and “G’s” on the clarinet versus those recalled while playing in Ransom. After joining the church orchestra on alto Ron had the opportunity to be a founding member of a jazz saxophone quartet called Crosswinds. Unfortunately a quartet with three altos and a tenor lacks a bottom end. Remembering the sound he once loved so much he graciously volunteered to switch. (Ron denies that the low “A” was instrumental in that decision.) The rest they say is history.

Since then he has lugged that Bari to venues in Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and Central and South America. He has performed with Camp Kirkland, Babbie Mason, Lee Greenwood, a number of charities, and the Guy Lombardo Orchestra. Ron currently plays with the Capitol City Xpress big band, Metro Jazz Club, Atlanta Blue Notes, Victory Jazz Orchestra, and leads the orchestra and performs specials at church. Ron and Patty have been married for over 25 years and they have four daughters. Ron gives thanks to God for the amazing gift and opportunities he has been given through music. Occasionally, he still plays the clarinet when his back gets tired.

Trombone Section

Jim Wile
Trombone

Jim is a great trombone player.

 

Jim Lee
Trombone

Jim is a West Coast native, and graduated from Cal State University at Hayward with a degree in Trombone Performance. As he also wanted to eat, Jim quickly embarked on a career in Sales, and is currently the sales manager for Comprehensive Technical Group. Jim’s musical experience includes touring overseas and in the states with several Christian music groups.

He also has 13 years of experience with Dixieland and Traditional Jazz bands in California and in Iowa, and worked with an Alternative/Indie/Americana group as the entire horn section. Also, Jim played two years in a Community Orchestra. Jim moved to the Atlanta area in 2011, and tells us, “I am enjoying playing with CCX!”.

Ted Johnson
Trombone

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A native of Maryland, Ted grew up in a musical family.  In 4th grade, Ted began his trombone playing career and quickly challenged himself to become involved with county and state honor bands.  In high school, he was a fixture in the band program as part of the Marching, Concert, Orchestra, and Stage Band groups. Ted especially enjoyed playing in the Stage Band which performed Big Band and Jazz music with a full compliment of musicians.

After college in Philadelphia, Ted moved to the Atlanta area to begin his career in IT.  Over the past 20+ years, he has participated in several local groups and, in addition to CCX, currently plays in the Broad St. Concert Band of Sugar Hill and in his church. Ted has 3 school-aged children who have a talent for music and ER visits.

While he still piddles on piano and guitar, he says he loves playing Big Band bone again with the great folks in CCX.

Don Gardo
Bass Trombone

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Don Gardo graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta where he studied with members of the Atlanta Symphony, retired principal trombonist Harry Maddox and tubist Michael Moore. His most influential teachers include members of the Chicago Symphony:  Charles Vernon, Edward Kleinhammer, and most importantly, Arnold Jacobs.

Don has over 35 years of playing and teaching experience and was principal trombone with the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera Orchestra in the 1980’s, and has also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the North Pittsburgh Philharmonic, the Edgewood (PA) Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Savannah Symphony, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Charleston, South Carolina and Spoleto, Italy, The Ritz Carlton Jazz Orchestra, the Trinity Jazz Orchestra, and the Colorado Philharmonic.  Recordings include two holiday big band CDs with the Ritz Carlton Orchestra, Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome” and Boito’s “Prologue to Mephistopheles” with the Atlanta Symphony, Robert Shaw, conducting.  “I’m thrilled to be playing bass ‘bone with CCX!”

 

Trumpet Section

Todd Hoff
Trumpet

Todd began playing trumpet in the 5th grade and after moving a few times, ended up in Northeast Ohio where he played in high school, and eventually at The University of Akron. During that time, Todd played with numerous groups, and was a member of the United Way All Collegiate Band and has played at Disneyland, Rose Bowl Herald Trumpets, and various performances including the Kennedy Center with the “Pershing’s Own” Herald Trumpets.

After college, Todd got a real paying job (to pay for his fascination of buying different trumpets), married a trumpet player from Ohio U (Carla), and now has 3 kids (all playing trumpet). During moves in 5 states & global travels – Todd seeks out local groups to play with, most recently Gwinnett Community Band, and local Atlanta jazz groups including CCX.  Todd combines his interest in trumpets and marketing through the creation of popular trumpet websites such as BrassReview and BachLoyalist.

 

Richard Barnett
Trumpet

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Richard was born and raised in Lebanon, TN and graduated from Samford University, in Birmingham, AL with a degree in pharmacy.  He played in the college wind ensemble and jazz band as well as several jazz bands in the area.  Later Richard served in the U. S. Air Force as a pharmacy officer in the hospital, and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 35 years.

Richard also took a 50 year break from playing trumpet resuming in 2006.  His wife Barbara and Richard have 2 daughters, Nancy and Carol and 2 grandchildren.   They live in Big Canoe, Georgia.

Carlos Melgar
Trumpet

Carlos is the stereotypical “comeback player” of the section! He started playing trumpet in the 7th grade and quickly discovered that he was not very good. However, he continued to practice and upon entering high school in West Texas quickly found himself climbing from 3rd section to 1st by the time he was a sophomore. His talent continued to grow as he found himself winning various regional and state competitions along with a few scholarships for college. He attended the University of Arizona and while he did not formally declare a music major, he was quickly heading that way.

However, like many a music major he reached a crossroads and eventually went a different direction. He became an accounting major. He continued to play in various Chicago style rock bands sprinkled with a bit of Mexican Mariachi and Folk music until the late 80’s. After that he rarely picked up his horn more than a few times a year until about 5 years ago. Starting to play again has reinvigorated his interest in music and playing with CCX is one of the things he looks forward to every week! He currently plays in CCX, the Gwinnett Community Orchestra, and with the First Baptist Church of Sugar Hill Praise Band. Carlos is married and has two children.

Jeff Cutchins
Trumpet

Jeffery Cutchins picked up a trumpet 40 yrs. ago and never put it down. Jeff plays, sings, acts and ministers in the metro Atlanta area. He comes from a family of brass players, actors, educators, ministers, and rodeo stars. At the University of South Carolina, he had the privilege to perform with Carolina Alive, a 40 voice pop ensemble representing the university around the world. Jeff performed for Madame Jehan Sadat, widow of the former President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat. Jeff has played at Disneyland, and the Gator Bowl. While playing with the awesome musicians of Capital City Xpress, he also plays in the Sugar Hill Baptist Church vocal band. His musical philosophy is to blend and enhance total sound.

Jeff is a native of Atlanta and owns a contracting business serving Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. He is married to Joyce, an actress from Greenville, South Carolina, who ministers to women throughout Georgia at the Georgia Baptist Convention. They have 2 children, Christopher and Amy. Other interests include Broadcast and Amateur Radio.

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