Chris Merz

Chris Merz (saxophone), Camp Director

A highly sought-after clinician, Chris Merz has adjudicated at festivals in Iowa, Minnesota, Idaho, Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia, and is the Director of Jazz Studies at UNI. As a writer, he has completed commissions for UMass Amherst, Amherst College, The Des Moines Big Band, Augustanna College, Waukee and Riverton (WY) high schools, among others. Current performance projects include Christopher's Very Happy. Band., The Iowa Jazz Composers' Orchestra, Alpha State Agents, and Erick Thompson's Fun Time Music Hour. Merz founded the UNI Combo Camp in his first year at UNI, 2001.


Dave Rezek

Dave Rezek (trumpet)

A Des Moines native, versatile trumpeter Dave Rezek played professionally for over 10 years between Boston and New York. While in New York, he performed as an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-nominated large ensemble Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (started in Boston) and was a frequent sub with other innovative big bands and numerous Broadway shows, including an onstage performance at the 2006 Tony Awards Show as a designated sub with the cast of Jersey Boys, where the show won Best Musical honors. Since his return to Des Moines in 2007, Dave has been a much sought-after private teacher, clinician, festival adjudicator, front/sideman, and/or guest artist, and has performed alongside numerous top Midwest jazz artists.

In 2015, Dave became the Artistic Director and Bandleader for the Des Moines Big Band, which has been the featured resident band at Iowa’s premier jazz club, Noce Jazz & Cabaret, since the club’s opening on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2016. The DMBB performs there weekly, from September through May, and, as part of their Intermission Program, hosts over 30 Iowa schools and community bands each season. Dave also leads own original-music septet Dave Rezek’s Alpha State Agents, and he is a member of the Tony Valdez Large Band, the Bryan Schumacher Quintet, the Iowa Jazz Composers Orchestra, the Brian Martin Big Band, and the Paul Lichty Jazz Orchestra. He has also been an arranger/musical director for many of vocalist and Noce Co-Owner Max Wellman’s projects, including their popular annual Home For The Holidays show that celebrated 12 years running.

Dave has been on faculty at Creative Music Studio -- Iowa’s only year-round instrument techniques and jazz education school -- since 2012. His private instruction there covers trumpet techniques (beginning through advanced), All-State preparation (Classical and Jazz), and jazz improvisation. He previously coordinated and coached jazz combos at Drake University. In 2015, Dave was the recipient of a Community Jazz Center Special Recognition Award for his contributions to the jazz tradition in Central Iowa. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree with a jazz studies specialization from the University of Northern Iowa and his Master of Music degree in jazz trumpet performance from New England Conservatory in Boston.


Anthony Williams

Anthony Williams (trombone)

Anthony Williams currently serves as Assistant Professor of Trombone at the University of Northern Iowa where he teaches applied trombone, trombone choir, jazz trombone ensemble, low brass techniques, and trombone literature. An active clinician, he has worked with middle school, high school, and college students in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. He maintains a high frequency of performing in classical, jazz, and new music settings by performing locally, regionally, and nationally. He has performed with artists and ensembles such as the Memphis Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Memphis Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra of the Delta, Ray Charles Orchestra, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Natalie Cole, and the Temptations. Williams recently performed as lead trombonist on the Mike Waldrop Big Band’s 2015 release: “Time Within Itself” Other recording projects include Grosso for Trombone and Electronics for Mexican born composer, Jorge Sosa’s album, “Plastic Time,” albums by Ryan Middagh, The Dave Lisik Jazz Orchestra, University of Memphis “Southern Comfort” Jazz Ensemble, and The University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One playing lead trombone.

Dr. Williams earned degrees from the University of Central Arkansas (BM), University of Northern Iowa (MM), and the University of Memphis (DMA). He is a member of the International Trombone Association, National Association for Music Education, College Music Society, and the Jazz Education Network. Williams is a Conn/Selmer artist-clinician and plays Giddings and Webster mouthpieces exclusively.


Luke Sanders

Luke Sanders (guitar)

Luke Sanders is instructor of guitar at the University of Northern Iowa. Prior to UNI, Luke taught guitar and various courses and ensembles within the jazz curriculum at Luther College in Decorah, IA and Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. Luke earned his undergraduate degree in Instrumental Music Education at Coe College in 2017. Luke later would go on to lead the jazz program and direct the 9th grade band at Waterloo West High School. Following his time at Waterloo West, Luke earned his Master of Music in Jazz Pedagogy at UNI under the tutelage of Bob Dunn, Chris Merz, and Dr. Mike Conrad.

An active performer, clinician, and composer/arranger, Luke has been a staple in the Eastern Iowa Music scene for the past decade. Luke has performed with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra and the Cedar Rapids-based Orchestra Iowa. Luke has also been a featured guest artist with multiple professional concert bands around Iowa presenting the stateside premieres of Mario Parizek’s guitar concerto, Fingerpick meets Blasmusik.

While at UNI Luke’s student quintet, “Bad News,” earned a grant to record an album of all original music titled We Get That a Lot. Luke’s jazz performance experience has taken him around the Midwest in numerous acts as a bandleader and sideman. Luke has been on faculty for the KCCK Middle School Jazz Camp held at Kirkwood Community College since 2016. In addition to the KCCK camp, Luke has also served on staff at the Cedar Falls Summer Jazz camp and UNI’s own Amp Camp.

When Luke is not surrounded by guitars and gear he loves to spend time at his home in Waterloo with his fiancé, Casey, and their chihuahua, Kiki.


Mike Conrad

Mike Conrad (piano)

Mike Conrad is a composer, improviser, and teacher from Iowa. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Bill Dobbins and played lead trombone in the Eastman Jazz Ensemble. As a pianist, Conrad has performed with groups from across the country, including the Alexa Tarantino Quintet, and Christopher’s Very Happy. Band. In addition to touring China in the summer of 2016, he has appeared at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival, the Iowa City Jazz Festival, the Twin Cites Jazz Festival, and the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy.

From 2013 to 2015, Conrad was the Head Band Director at West High School in Waterloo, IA where he directed the Wind Symphony and Jazz Ensembles and taught Music Theory and Jazz Improvisation. He also led his own large jazz ensemble called COLOSSUS and is currently leading and writing for a unique 15-piece group called the All Angles Orchestra. Mike Conrad enjoys directing jazz ensembles at the University of Northern Colorado, teaching jazz piano and jazz composition lessons, and working with high school jazz bands from around the country in clinics and at festivals. He has been on the jazz faculty at the University of Iowa's Jazz Camp, the University of Northern Iowa Jazz Combo Camp, and the Rockport Jazz Camp in Massachusetts. For his work at the Eastman Community Music School, Conrad received Jack L. Frank Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Conrad has been recognized for his arranging and composing with four ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards and five Downbeat Student Music Awards, as well as awards from the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers and Ithaca College’s Jazz Composition Contest. He has been commissioned by several schools and organizations such as the West Point Army Jazz Knights, Excelsior Charter Schools, the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band, and the University of Northern Iowa. Mike Conrad truly loves collaborating with other musicians, and always brings his creativity and expressiveness to every concert that he performs and every composition that he writes.


Dave Altemeier

Dave Altemeier (bass)

Dave holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with a Bass emphasis and Jazz Studies Minor from the University of Northern Iowa. While there he was in Jazz Band One for four years and principal bass in the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra. He has taught for more than two decades in central Iowa and has performed with a wide variety of ensembles in a large range of styles.


Josh Hakanson

Josh Hakanson (drums)

Josh Hakanson is a musician and educator based in Cedar Falls, IA. On drum set, Hakanson has played professionally in the Northwest and Midwest in a range of musical styles, encompassing jazz, rock, hip-hop, and fusion. As a student and professional performer, he has made appearances with such musicians as Bobby Shew, Adam Kolker, John Wojciechowski, Luis Bonilla, Benny Green, Steve Owen, Idit Shner, Joe Manis, Bob Washut, Chris Merz, Dave Rezek, Don Jaques, and many others. As an educator, he has taught private lessons to all ages, coached large and small jazz ensembles at the collegiate level, and administered music clinics at the middle and high school level.