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The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra

A 501C3 NFP, The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra is dedicated to promoting and nurturing the American art form of jazz through public and instrumental student education via performance, commissioning and presenting new works, developing new audiences and advancing education for all levels of students.


The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra led by saxophonist and educator Curt Hanrahan is an A-list roster of Milwaukee musicians who not only swing their behinds off, they have something original to say by way of performances with a perfect balance of classic and contemporary standards and originals that are swinging, soulful, traditional and cutting-edge. Curt Hanrahan is the head of jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He co-founded the Lakeshore Conservatory of Music in Racine Wisconsin and performs with the Milwaukee Symphony. He has worked with artists such as Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Harry Connick Jr., the Arturo Sandoval Big Band, Manhattan Transfer, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Doc Severinsen, Frank Sinatra Jr., and Ray Charles.

Drummer Warren Hanrahan graduated from the legendary North Texas State University and performed with the renowned One O’clock Lab Band under Neil Slater. He then moved on to tenures with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and the S.S. Norway Big Band. He has performed with Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, Billy Joel, Clark Terry, Keely Smith, John Davidson, Vanessa Williams, and in the Broadway shows Chicago, Godspell, West Side Story and Ain't Misbehavin’. He has also performed with R&B legends such as The Drifters, The Duprees, The Shirelles, and TV legends such as Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Sid Caesar, and Skitch Henderson.

Milwaukee Jazz Origins

The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra was born out of Hanrahan's involvement with the annual Woody Herman Jazz Festival assembling former members of Herman's various ensembles to perform and began putting a local big band together to perform along with the soloists. After doing this for a few years, he began to have composers and arrangers write new music for this band and actively seek performance opportunities outside of the Herman festival. Around this time, Curt decided to put a family band together with his son Tim, a bassist, who graduated from school with a degree in Jazz studies and, his brother Warren on drums. This became the catalyst to record new and old music using some of the finest jazz musicians in the Milwaukee area and together these musicians, along with the Hanrahan family, became the core of the Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra. The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra strives to emulate, through its performances and educational endeavors, the same benevolence Woody Herman demonstrated over 50 years of big band performance.

"...a sprightly studio session that proves above all that the art of swinging remains operative and well in Milwaukee." Jack Bowers, All About Jazz


"The sections are bright and booming, socking a punch like a heavyweight. Lots of fun!"

George Harris LA Jazz Weekly

"...a crew of Milwaukee jazzbos through a delightfully mixed big band program, they hit it right out of the box with a swinging, commercial energy that's inclusive and invites everyone into the tent---particularly if they want to hear some killer blowing, all home grown and away from the beaten path. High octane, high energy and a high old grand time. Well done." Midwest Jazz Record

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