Casey Nagata is in his third year of teaching at King Kekaulike High School. He serves as the school’s music director for its symphonic band, jazz band, marching/pep bands, pit orchestra, concert choir, ukulele ensemble, and guitar ensemble, Tri-M Music Honor Society faculty advisor, and music theory and composition course instructor. He is also a co-founder of the Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra and one of its current music directors along with Siuai Laufou and Richard Tadaki.
Casey graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with degrees in music education, music composition, and jazz performance. Prior to his position at KKHS, he worked as a substitute teacher, GED tutor, and Home Hospital instructor in the Maui and Spokane school districts, reed manufacturer at Jones Double Reed Products, and freelance musician and composer. His teachers include Sylvia Baker, David Fague, Robert Spittal, and Fr. Kevin Waters, SJ.
The Chop Suey Jazz Combo is an offshoot of the newly revived Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra. Made up of professional and semi-pro musicians and educators, the Chop Suey Jazz Combo features drummer Perry Gragas, guitarist Rusty Higa, guest bassist Danny M., trombonist Richard Tadaki (retired Iao Intermediate band director), and tenor saxophonist Siuai Laufou (Kamehameha Schools Maui music director).
Tenor-saxophonist Eric Schneider is an institution in the Chicago jazz scene, having played topnotch jazz for 30 years. He gained recognition when he was a member of the Earl Hines Quartet during 1979-82 (also playing alto and clarinet), and he toured with the Count Basie Orchestra during 1982-83. He has also performed with Benny Goodman, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney and Billy Eckstine.
Emil Richards’ illustrious career began in the 1950s and, since then, he has played and/or recorded for most of the famous names in music including: Charles Mingues, Perry Como, Ray Charles, George Shearing, Paul Horn, Shorty Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Riddle, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughan, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Stan Kenton, the Beach Boys, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, and many, many more.
The Na Ali’i Big Band is one of Maui’s premier ensembles for big band-style jazz and swing. Ranging from Basie to Maynard, this group of talented high schoolers focuses on the stylistic elements of jazz music as well as improvisational soloing. The Teal & Black Jazz Quintet is comprised of senior drummer Joshua Demetropoulos, junior pianist Michaela Johnson, senior trumpeter Keokoa Mahi, and music director Casey Nagata, and will be joined by guest bassist Danny M.