Mark Bruggemann, cornet

Mark graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a business degree and immediately went on the road touring with a very popular rock band called Second Sight. Through the years he has played trumpet numerous times with many great entertainers including Kenny Rogers, Benny King, Bobby Vinton, The Shirrels, The Temptations, Manhattan Transfer, Jimmy Dorsey, Johnny Lee, and the ever-popular local group, The M-Dock Band.

Mark is the owner of Trend Management, a company that manages money for individuals and corporations. He brings a strong lead sound, exciting, melodic solos, and an upbeat personality to the Creole Band.

Bill Reder, clarinet

Bill played with Wayne Newton, Tony Bennett, Liberace, and many others during his decades playing professionally in Las Vegas. He came to Branson, Missouri with Wayne Newton in the mid-1990s and has been in the area ever since.

Bill teaches woodwinds at College of the Ozarks and still plays extensively in and around southwest Missouri. The New Creole Jazz Band is thrilled to have Bill as part of the front line. His exciting, New Orleans sound and style compliment the entire group and his warm and outgoing personality fits right in!

Bob Swanson, trombone

After Bob Swanson graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Music Performance in 1998, he headed to the University of North Texas and earned a Master of Music Performance in 2000. While there, he was a member of the world-famous One O’Clock Lab Band. Bob also spent time in Florida with the All-American College Band at Walt Disney World, sailed Alaska and the Caribbean while playing on cruise ships, and was a member of the Bobby Vinton/Glenn Miller Orchestra. In 2003, Bob went on tour with the jazz trombone group, “Spiritual to the Bone”. Currently he is also a member of the Missouri Jazz Orchestra (MOJO), Springfield Brass Quintet, and plays and arranges for the M-Dock Band. He regularly plays as a substitute trombonist with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and can often be found in the pit of Springfield’s own Landers Theatre where he has played numerous musical theater productions.

Bob is a published arranger for various ensembles, and is also adjunct low brass faculty at Drury University and Missouri State University in Springfield. The Creole Band is proud to have Bob on board. His beautiful, open tone, swingin’ technique, and authentic, tailgate style are a perfect complement to the band.

Lee Smith, piano

Lee first became interested in music through the influence of an uncle in the 1950s. This favorite uncle was a fan of Dixieland and New Orleans jazz and was a record collector. These interests stuck with Lee throughout his life.

He started performing at the age of 16 both on piano and cornet and played both the older jazz and more contemporary music as the years went on. Eventually, Lee moved to the Ozarks and wound up as the ragtime piano player in the Silver Dollar City Saloon Show starting in 1986. In 1995, he went to the Showboat Branson Belle playing trumpet and valve trombone for almost eight years. Then, back to the saloon Show! Also during that time, Lee worked in an a show called the Memory Makers for seven seasons. This was the first show in Branson to feature music from the various decades as its theme.

At age 64, Lee semi-retired. More semi than retired! And that’s the way Lee likes it.

Jesse Owsley, bass

Jesse Owsley is a native of rural Southwest Missouri and grew up
listening to Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt and the Dukes of Dixieland
albums on the farm and playing his trumpet for his first audience of
cows and chickens. He continued as a trumpeter through college playing in the Drury College Jazz band and Orchestra as well as singing with the Drury Singers.

After graduation, he moved to Dallas, Texas, via the Alaskan Bush and made a hard turn to roots music playing guitar, mandolin and bass with bands in the Dallas Deep Ellum scene, founding the long running Irish Rock band, ‘The Killdares’, playing mandolin with singers such as Robin Lynn Macy of The Dixie Chicks, and swinging rhythms for Texas fiddlers.

Jesse is an alumnus of the Southwest Playhouse pit orchestra in
Clinton, Oklahoma, where he played bass on musicals such as Always Patsy Cline, Annie and others. Additionally, he has a long resume as a church musician playing electric and upright bass for orchestral to contemporary church music and everything in between.

In addition to his regular gig as bassist for the Springfield Community Jazz Ensemble (formerly Little Hoover’s Big Band), he plays roots-based music with his fiddling partner, Melody Church, in their own www.PrimitivePhysick.Band. Jesse says, “Early New Orleans style jazz was one of my first musical loves as a kid and playing with New Creole Jazz Band is a full circle turn to my own personal musical roots.” There are widely spread but unsubstantiated rumors that Jesse is the man behind the anonymous Blues bassist ‘L8cretacious’, however this has never been proven.

Dave Gravatt, banjo

After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Technology from Central Missouri State University, Dave Gravatt moved to St. Louis where he played trombone with The 1919 Jazz Band, Bob Ceccerini’s River City Ramblers, The St. Louis Ragtimers, Eric Sager’s City Lights Jazz Band, and many others. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education at New Mexico State University and has 18 years experience as a music educator; elementary, junior high, and high school band director; jazz band clinician and adjudicator; and marching band clinician and adjudicator. He has performed with numerous entertainers including The Modernaires, Julio Iglesias, Bill Watrous, Johnny Cash, and Bob Hope and spent four years as principal trombonist and arranger/orchestrator with the Shoji Tabuchi Orchestra in Branson, Missouri.

In 1995, Dave was diagnosed with Embouchure Focal Dystonia and can no longer play trombone. He has played banjo ever since. He also plays electric bass with some local bands and in the pit orchestra for various theaters including Springfield’s historic Landers Theater.

Guest Musicians

We have been fortunate to have a number of great musicians as members of the band or who have sat in with us a time or two. CLICK HERE to see a partial list of those players.