Click a name: Rich Sonnenschein, Ray Strucker, Andy Leech
Rich was born in New York City, grew up in the North Miami, FL, area, and began studying piano at age 8. Back in the 1960s, seventh grade marked a pivotal point in his musical career: picking an instrument. Had his name fallen earlier in the alphabet, the school oboe might have been the instrument destined for him, but he had to resort to Plan B: the Trumpet!
A fond memory from his youth is his mother’s playing the music of her day (before Dad got home from work!), thus introducing him to the styles of Bunny Berrigan, Harry James, and Billy Butterfield.
Many years later, in 1985, Rich got wind of a new concert band – the Olney Concert Band – that had formed, and met at his neighborhood high school. He dusted off his horn, and hasn’t put it down since.
In the intervening years, while continuing to play with the concert band, Rich branched out with a few different Big (swing) Bands. For him, playing with the Olney Big Band has been a most gratifying experience, bringing Big Band music to his community and beyond.
Ray picked up the trumpet and guitar in the seventh grade – Southern California. He grew up playing with local big bands, rock bands, and groups in the Los Angeles area. He is a graduate of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA – Alma Mater of Dave Brubeck. As a professional musician in Central Texas he played endless club dates, musicals, and special events with styles ranging from straight ahead jazz, jazz fusion, Latin, heavy rock, rap & hip-hop, reggae, funk, western swing, post-modern folk, garden variety cover bands, and no-nonsense horn-loaded blues. A veteran of countless studio sessions has allowed him to work with many world-class musicians, producers, and recording engineers. His talent as a horn arranger allows him to write for any style; from simple folk tunes to the heaviest of jacked up distortion-guitar rock. Versatility is everything. Bebop is his passion and he considers himself blessed to have spent valuable time over the years with his mentors in jazz; Conte Candoli, Bobby Shew, and Martin Banks. Play with intensity or don’t play at all.
Andy V. Leech
Andy earned a B.A. in Music Performance in Trumpet at The American University in Washington, DC., studying with David Flowers, Bramhall Smith, Jr., and Charles Brady.
He has performed at The Kennedy Center, The National Theatre, The National Gallery of Art, Old Post Office Pavilion, The National Cathedral, the Vice Presidential Residence, and on Capitol Hill.
Andy plays both classical music and popular/jazz. He has performed classical music with Washington Pro Musica, Melos Sinfonia, Washington Savoyards, Prince George's Philharmonic, McLean Symphony, McLean Orchestra, Friday Morning Music Club Orchestra, and Chinese-American Symphony.
In addition to the Olney Big Band, his popular/jazz performances have including playing with New Columbia Swing Orchestra, Doc Dikeman Big Band, and various German and polka bands.