Gene Dobbs Bradford, Executive Director
Gene Dobbs Bradford has been the Executive Director of Jazz St. Louis since February 1999. During that time he is credited with building the organization’s contributed and earned income from $375,000 to $1.8 million today. Mr. Bradford has received many honors, including the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” “Most Influential People in St. Louis” and “Inclusive Leadership” awards. Under his leadership, Jazz St. Louis received the 2006 “Excellence in the Arts” award from the Arts and Education Council of Saint Louis and its flagship program “Jazz at the Bistro” was named one of the ten great jazz clubs in the country by Wynton Marsalis in USA Today. He holds a bachelor’s degree in double bass performance from the Eastman School of Music and an MBA from Washington University. From 1994-99, he was Director of Operations for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Bob Bennett, Artistic Director / Director of Operations
Bob Bennett joined Jazz St. Louis as Director of Operations in June 2000. Mr. Bennett is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in jazz performance. He has helped Jazz at the Bistro broaden its artistic presentation and worldwide reputation as one of the leading jazz clubs in the United States. In September of 2004, Bennett helped the organization successfully launch their “All-Star Student Ensemble,” a group featuring the best high school jazz talent in the St. Louis area. Under his direction, the program expanded to feature two ensembles in each of the following two years. In 2007, Mr. Bennett became the sole talent buyer for the Jazz at the Bistro series, programming the most financially successful season in the club’s history. Subsequent success led to his being named Director of Artistic Administration in 2010. That same year, Bennett programmed the most highly anticipated season in Jazz St. Louis’ history and set a new bar for ticket and subscription revenue. With the continued growth of the organization, he is now programming not only the Jazz at the Bistro series, but additional Jazz St. Louis performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center and other area venues.
Michael Carson, Controller & Director of Administration
Michael joined Jazz St Louis in October 2013 as Controller & Director of Administration. Prior to joining Jazz St. Louis, Michael enjoyed a successful career in commercial lending in a variety of Controller, Finance, and General Manger roles. He has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and an MBA from St. Louis University.
Michael lacks any musical talent whatsoever, except the ability to enjoy a wide range of music, and is excited to have the opportunity to work with the talented and dedicated staff of Jazz St. Louis. He considers himself a native St. Louisan, having grown up here after moving to St. Louis at a very young age, and remains a diehard Cardinals fan. In his off time, Michael enjoys spending time with family and running, most recently completing the 2013 Chicago Marathon.
Phillip Dunlap, Director of Education
Born in Mason City, IA, Phil Dunlap moved to the metro area in 2000 to study jazz at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. While there, he studied with pianist Reggie Thomas until he graduated in May of 2007, earning bachelor’s degrees in jazz performance as well as music theory/composition, and a master’s degree in jazz performance. He was hired by Jazz St. Louis to head their growing portfolio of education programs in April of 2007.
Outside of the office, Phil remains active as a teacher, lecturer and performer. In 2010, he became an Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. He has given pre-concert talks for the St. Louis Symphony, presented clinics at MMEA and MBA, and is the host and writer for Building Blocks of Jazz, an education segment that appears as part of HEC-TV’s I Love Jazz. In 2009, he traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan with American Voices as an artist in residence at Kabul University and the National Institute for Music.
As a performer, Phil has presented numerous concerts in St. Louis, performing along side musicians such as Terell Stafford, Houston Person, Jimmy Cobb, and Christine Brewer at venues such as the Sheldon Concert Hall, Powell Hall and Jazz at the Bistro.
Most recently, Phil received the Certificate of Merit Award from St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association and was named “30 Under 30” by the St. Louis Business Journal.
Cherise Harris, Senior Accountant
A native of St. Louis, Cherise discovered a way to meld her passions for jazz and accounting in March of 2012 as Accounting Intern at Jazz St. Louis. While pursuing a bachelor degree of science in accounting from the University of Missouri – St. Louis, she learned a lot about the inner-workings of a powerful jazz organization, as she assisted in monitoring and maintaining accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash receipts, general ledger accounts, asset/liability account reconciliations, and audit preparation. Through account analysis, she recovered $10,000 to add to Jazz St. Louis’s bottom line for the FY 2012 audit. She was promoted to the position of Senior Accountant in July of 2013. Cherise brings prior work experience from varied accounting positions, including Junior Accountant for the not-for-profit organization Urban Pathways, New York, NY. She holds degrees in accounting from Berkeley College, New York, NY and website development from Webster University, St. Louis, MO. She has also studied jazz theory, music business, and technology as academia at Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA and The New School, New York, NY, and in the late, late night jam sessions of Boston and NYC. She has appreciated jazz since she was eight years old as a classically trained pianist, preferring non-vocal music, until hearing Sarah Vaughan at age eleven, becoming enthralled with jazz singing. Upon graduation from University City Senior High School, she received the NASA scholarship to attend Spelman College, Atlanta, GA and studied computer science. While at Spelman, she toured with the Spelman College Jazz Ensemble as a lead vocalist and historian. She understands, appreciates, and admires the discipline and dedication required of jazz musicians and seeks to foster that same work ethic in today’s youth or anyone pursuing a God-given vision. At a young age, it is as if she has seen her life come full circle. At sixteen, she had her first paid, jazz gig in the building that is soon to be the new home of Jazz St. Louis, and now she is thankfully enthused to be a part of such a monumental time for Jazz St. Louis in her very own hometown.
Daniel Hodges, Development Associate
Daniel Hodges joined Jazz St. Louis in September of 2012 as the organization’s Box Office & Administrative Assistant and was quickly promoted to Development Associate in April 2013. He graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 2009 where he received his bachelor’s degree with a double major in Communication Studies & Theatre (CST) and English. Originally from South Dakota, Daniel has worked as an actor, director, choreographer and theatre instructor with a focus on musical theatre and acting training for children and teens. In addition to his work for Jazz St. Louis, Daniel works as an actor and theater teaching artist for several companies in the St. Louis area and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Theatre and Performance at Washington University.
Devin Rodino, Director of Communications
Devin began with Jazz St. Louis as an intern in May 2008. Upon completion of his summer internship, Devin was hired as a part-time employee while finishing his senior year at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where he graduated in May 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in music business. Devin eventually expanded his duties into a full-time position in November 2011 as the Communications & Operations Manager, fulfilling the day-to-day marketing efforts of Jazz St. Louis and running front- and back-of-house at Jazz at the Bistro concerts. In December 2013, Devin was promoted to Director of Communications, and now oversees all aspects of Jazz St. Louis’s marketing and public relations efforts. Outside of work, Devin can be found playing alto sax in the soul/Motown cover band Jake Gehret & The Brokedown Sound.
Jessie Youngblood, Box Office & Administrative Assistant
Originally from Boise, Idaho, Jessie relocated to St. Louis in January of 2013 after completing her Master’s of Music in Violin Pedagogy at Boise State University. She got her start with the St. Louis Symphony Box Office and moved to Jazz St. Louis in June 2013 as the Box Office and Administrative Assistant. Jessie has an extremely diverse musical background. She has been playing the violin for eighteen years and the trumpet for fourteen. She has taught herself to play piano, guitar, and any other instrument she could get her hands on. Her performance résumé encompasses a variety of ensembles, including a 180-person full orchestra and chorus in Eisenstadt, Austria, numerous jazz ensembles, string quartets, opera and musical pit orchestras, wind ensembles, and even a Beatles tribute band. Her solo repertoire includes everything from jazz-fiddle to classical coronet. Most of all, Jessie has a love for any music that is American in its roots. Though she spends her days in the office, she still teaches and performs on violin and trumpet any time she can.