Brendan Rawson, Executive Director
Born and raised in the South Bay, Brendan Rawson has worked in the local arts scene for more than a dozen years. In his most recent role as director of Cultural Participation at 1stACT Silicon Valley (now Silicon Valley Creates) from 2008-12, Brendan was instrumental in launching the Left Coast Live Music festival, spearheading shared facilities and services strategies for the sector, and leading the organization’s research work. Prior to 1stACT, Brendan served as Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC Santa Cruz Extension, programming more than 100 courses annually across the arts, humanities, and sciences (2004-2007). From 1999 to 2003 Brendan served as Director of Community and Neighborhood Programs for Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley during which time he also served as a loaned executive to MACLA, Center for Latino Arts, as interim Executive Director. From 1995 to 1999 Brendan served as Associate and Research Director at Collaborative Economics in Palo Alto, working in various capacities on more than 20 economic development projects throughout the United States. Brendan holds a Masters of Public Policy from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University. Brendan has served on the Board of Teatro Vision de San Jose, Bay Area Glass Institute, and Valley Verde. Brendan is also a founder and co-owner of the Naglee Park Garage restaurant.
Bruce Labadie, Artistic & Festival Director
Bruce Labadie has over 40 years of experience in Performing Arts Management and festival production. He directed all programs at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga for 18 years, and has served as the performing arts director at the Montalvo Arts Center, in Saratoga, Calif., for 12 years, and as the director of many festivals in San Jose. As the founder, artistic and festival director of the San Jose Jazz Festival, now the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, since 1990, and San Jose Jazz Winter Fest, Labadie programs over 120 concerts annually for San Jose Jazz. He is currently programming consultant for the Musco Center at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, Calif. He also served as artistic director for San Jose’s Music in the Park and Music in the Other Park summer series for 22 years, was producer for San Jose’s 01SJ Festival of art and technology, is artistic director of the Jazz on the Plazz, and Music in the Park series in Los Gatos, and has been director of the Redwood City Salsa Festival and Cultural Concerts, and immediate past president of California Presenters. He has produced most of the major festivals in San Jose including the San Jose Mariachi Festival, the San Jose America Festival, Brew Ha Ha and many others. He graduated with a Bachelor of Sciences degree from Santa Clara University in 1972.
Dr. Aaron Lington, High School All Stars Director
Aaron Lington is a San José State University music professor and Coordinator of its Jazz Studies Program. He is an accomplished music educator, arranger/composer, and saxophonist. California Music Educators Association (CMEA) named him Jazz Educator of the Year; DownBeat Magazine has twice recognized him as a “Rising Star” in the Baritone Saxophone category. Aaron has adjudicated over 20 jazz festivals in the Western United States, including Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival and Folsom Jazz Festival. He frequently performs with his own Quintet, and has performed with the San José Symphony, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra and many others. Dr. Lington earned his Bachelors in Music from the University of Houston Moores School of Music, his Masters in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas, and his Doctorate in Saxophone Performance from the University of North Texas. Learn more at aaronlington.com.
Hugo Garcia, Progressions Program Manager
Hugo Garcia joined the Progressions team in August 2017. He received his BA in Music from University of California, Davis and his MM in Music Education from San José State University. Hugo is driven by the challenge of creating equity and access to all students for a well-rounded and quality music education. Previously, he was the director of the Young Musicians’ Project while at SJSU and is honored to now be working at San Jose Jazz to continue to grow music education in the South Bay community.
Wally Schnalle, Summer Jazz Camp Director
Wally Schnalle is a recording artist, composer, educator, clinician and bandleader with a long history of working with San Jose Jazz and performing and recording with the finest musicians in the Bay Area and beyond. As an educator and clinician, Wally has actively shared his knowledge at schools, camps, clinics, and private lessons. Wally has performed with many recording artists, including Phil Woods, Ernie Watts, Bill Henderson, Med Flory, Dave Pell, and Mary Wilson. He has performed widely, including gigs at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Monterey Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s Jazz Club, Portland Jazz Festival, San Francisco’s Jazz in the City series. He has released nine CDs of original compositions and performed on countless CDs with other artists. Wally is sponsored by Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Drum Sticks, and Earthwork High Definition Microphones. Wally earned his Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance at San Jose State University. Learn more at itrhymes.com.
Vera Gert, Finance Director
Vera Gert moved to Silicon Valley from Russia in 2001. She has more than 15 years of experience in public accounting and financial reporting, including IAS and GAAP practice. After receiving her degree in Financial Analysis, Vera worked as Controller for ExxonMobile official dealer in Moscow for two years. From 2006-2016, she participated in various projects including accounting system development for Lutronic Inc, the U.S. office of the Korean company; accounting consulting for DeLeon Realty, a Palo Alto real estate agency; and financial reporting consulting for AeroFund Financial, Inc., a San Jose-based factoring company. For three years, Vera served as an auditor for the San Francisco Bay Area and Peninsula nonprofit sector, including various community service centers, education institutions and performing art organizations.
Director of Marketing
Scott Fulton, Coordinator, High School All Stars and SJZ Boom Box Project Manager
Scott has recently returned to the Bay Area after a 10-year stint in Los Angeles, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Industry Studies from California State University, Northridge. After graduation, Scott gained experience in concert production, activating shows in Chinatown, Santa Monica, and all over the San Fernando Valley, while simultaneously earning a living as a gigging musician, touring regionally, and playing bass guitar in a band that was a featured headliner at the 2013 Java Jazz Fest in Jakarta, Indonesia. Since joining the staff of San Jose Jazz, he has managed the San Jose Jazz High School All Stars band and managed stages at SJZ Summer Fest.